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Copyright, 1899, by Henry Altemus. 

j Heroes and 
^ 'Hero Worship 



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TttO/nAS Carlylc 










We have undertaken to discourse here for a 
little on Great Men, their manner of appearance 
in our world's business, how they have shaped 
themselves in the world's history, what ideas, 
men formed of them, what work they did ; — on 
Heroes, namely, and on their reception- and per- 
formance ; what I call Hero-worship and the 
Heroic in human affairs. Too evidently this is 
a large topic ; deserving quite other treatment 
than we can expect to give it at present. A 
large topic ; indeed, an illimitable one ; wide as 
Universal History itself. For, as I take it. Uni- 
versal History, the history of what man has- 
accomplished in this world, is at bottom the His- 

6 Xecturcs on Ibcroes, 

tory of the Great Men who have worked here. 
They were the leaders of men, these great ones ; 
the modellers, patterns, and in a wide sense 
creators, of whatsoever the general mass of men 
contrived to do or to attain •, all things that 
we see standing accomplished in the world are 
properly the outer material result, the practical 
realization and embodiment, of Thoughts that 
dwelt in the Great Men sent into the world : the 
soul of the whole world's history, it may justly 
be considered, were the history of these. Too 
clearly it is a topic we shall do no justice to in 
this place ! 

One comfort is, that Great Men, taken up in 
any way, are profitable company. We cannot 
look, however imperfectly, upon a great man, 
without gaining something by him. He is the 
living light-fountain, which it is good and pleasant 
to be near. The light which enligh.ens, which 
has enlightened the darkness of the world ; and 
this not as a kindled lamp only, but rather 
as a natural luminary shining by the gift of 
Heaven ; a flowing light-fountain, as I say, of 
native original insight, of manhood and heroic 
nobleness ; — in whose radiance all souls feel that 
it is well with them. On any terms whatsoever, 
you will not grudge to wander in such neighbor- 
hood for a while. These Six classes of Heroes, 
chosen out of widely-distant countries and epochs, 
and in mere external figure differing altogether, 
ought, if we look faithfully at them, to illustrate 
several things for us. Could we see them well, 
we should get some glimpses into the very mar- 
row of the world's history. How happy, could I 

Zbc Ibero as Dtvinitg. j- 

but, in any measure, in such times as these, make 
manifest to you the meanings of Heroism ; the 
divine relation (for I may well call it such) which 
in all times unites a Great Man to other men ; 
and thus, as it were, not exhaust my subject, but 
so much as break ground on it ! At all events, I 
must make the attempt. 

It is well said, in every sense, that a man's 
religion is the chief fact with regard to him. A 
man's, or a nation of men's. By religion I do 
not mean here the church-creed which he pro- 
fesses, the articles of faith which he will sign. 
and, in words or otherwise, assert ; not this 
wholly, in many cases not this at all. We see 
men of all kinds of professed creeds attain to 
almost all degrees of worth or worthlessness 
under each or any of them. This is not what I 
call religion, this profession and assertion ; which 
is often only a profession and assertion from the 
outworks of the man, from the mere argumenta- 
tive region of him, if even so deep as that. But 
the thing a man does practically believe (and this 
is often enough zvithoiU asserting it even to him- 
self, much less to others) ; the thing a man does 
practically lay to heart, and know for certain, 
concerning his vital relations to this mysterious 
Universe, and his duty and destiny there, that is 
in all cases the primary thing for him, and cre- 
atively determines all the rest. That is his 
religion ; or, it may be, his mere scepticism and 
no-religion : the manner it is in which he feels 
himself to be spiritually related to the Unseen 
World or No-World j and I say, if you tell me 

S Xectures on Iberoes. 

what that is, you tell me to a very great extent 
what the man is, what the kind of things he will 
do is. Of a man or of a nation we inquire, there- 
fore, first of all. What religion they had ? Was 
it Heathenism, — plurality of gods, mere sensuous 
representation of this Mystery of Life, and for 
chief recognized element therein Physical Force ? 
Was it Christianism ; faith in an Invisible, not as 
real only, but as the only reality ; Time, through 
every meanest moment of it, resting on Eternity ; 
Pagan empire of Force displaced by a nobler 
supremacy, that of Holiness ? Was it Scepti- 
cism, uncertainty and inquiry whether there was 
an Unseen World, any Mystery of Life except a 
mad one ; — doubt as to all this, or perhaps unbe- 
lief and flat denial ? Answering of this question 
is giving us the soul of the history of the man or 
nation. The thoughts they had were the parents 
of the actions they did ; their feelings were 
parents of their thoughts : it was the unseen and 
spiritual in them that determined the outward 
and actual ; — their religion, as I say, was the 
great fact about them. In these Discourses, 
limited as we are, it will be good to direct our 
survey chiefly to that religious phasis of the mat- 
ter. That once known well, all is known. We 
have chosen as the first Hero in our series, Odin 
the central figure of Scandinavian Paganism ; an 
emblem to us of a most extensive province of 
things. Let us look for a little at the Hero as 
Divinity, the oldest primary form of Heroism. 

Surely it seems a very strange-looking thing 
this Paganism ; almost inconceivable to us in 
these days. A bewildering, inextricable jungle 

XLbc 1bero as Divinity. 9 

of delusions, confusions, falsehoods and absurd- 
ities, covering the whole field of Life ! A thing 
that fills us with astonishment, almost, if it were 
possible, with incredulity, — for truly it is not easy 
to understand that sane men could ever calmly, 
with their eyes open, believe and live by such a 
set of doctrines. That men should have wor- 
shipped their poor fellow-man as a God, and not 
him only, but stocks and stones, and all manner 
of animate and inanimate objects ; and fashioned 
^or themselves such a distracted chaos of halluci- 
nations by way of Theory of the Universe : all this 
looks like an incredible fable. Nevertheless it is 
a clear fact that they did it. Such hideous in- 
extricable jungle of misworships, misbeliefs, men, 
made as we are, did actually hold by, and live at 
^home in. This is strange. Yes, we may pause 
in sorrow and silence over the depths of darkness 
that are in man ; if we rejoice in the heights of 
purer vision he has attained to. Such things 
were and are in man ; in all men ; in us too. 

Some speculators have a short way of account- 
ing for the Pagan religion : mere quackery, priest- 
craft, and dupery, say they ; no sane man ever 
did believe it, — merely contrived to persuade 
other men, not worthy of the name of sane, to 
believe it ! It will be often our duty to protest 
against this sort of hypothesis about men's doings 
and history ; and I here, on the very threshold, 
protest against it in reference to Paganism, and 
to all other /j';;zi- by which man has ever for a 
length of time striven to walk in this world. 
They have all had a truth in them, or men would 
not have taken them up. Quackery and dupery 

10 Xectures on Iberoes. 

do aboundf; in religions, above all in the more 
advanced decaying stages of religions, they have 
fearfully abounded : but quackery was never the 
originating influence in such things ; it was not 
the health and life of such things, but their dis- 
ease, the sure precursor of their being about to 
die ! Let us never forget this. It seems to me 
a most mournful hypothesis, that of quackery 
giving birth to any faith even in savage men. 
Quackery gives birth to nothing ; gives death to 
all things. We shall not see into the true heart 
•of anything, if we look merely at the quackeries 
of it ; if we do not reject the quackeries altogether; 
as mere diseases, corruptions, with which our and 
all men's sole duty is to have done with them, to 
sweep them out of our thoughts as out of our 
practice. Man everywhere is the born enemy of 
lies. I find Grand Lamaism itself to have a kind 
of truth in it. Read the candid, clear-sighted, 
rather sceptical Mr. Turner's Account of his Em- 
bassy to that country, and see. They have their 
belief, these poor Thibet people that Providence 
sends down always an Incarnation of Himself 
into every generation. At bottom some belief in a 
kind of Pope ! At bottom still better, belief that 
there is a Greatest Man ; that he is discoverable ; 
that, once discovered, we ought to treat him 
with an obedience which knows no bounds ! This 
is the truth of Grand Lamaism; the 'discovera- 
bility ' is the only error here. The Thibet priests 
have methods of their own of discovering what Man 
is Greatest, fit to be supreme over them. Bad 
methods : but are they so much worse than our 
methods, — of understanding him to be always the 

5rbe Ibero as Dtvtnlt^. il 

eldest-born of a certain genealogy ? Alas, it is a 

difficult thing to find good methods for ! We 

shall begin to have a chance of understanding Pa- 
ganism, when we first admit that to its followers it 
was, at one time, earnestly true. Let us consider it 
very certain that men did believe in Paganism ; 
men with open eyes, sound senses, men made alto- 
gether like ourselves ; that we, had we been there, 
should have believed in it. Ask now, What Pa- 
ganism could have been ? 

Another theory, somewhat more respectable, 
attributes such things to Allegory. It was a play 
of poetic minds, say these theorists ; a shadow- 
ing-forth, in allegorical fable, in personification 
and visual form, of what such poetic minds had 
known and felt of this Universe. Which agrees, 
add they, with a primary law of human nature, 
still everywhere observably at work, though in 
less important things, That what a man feels in- 
tensely, he struggles to speak-out of him, to see 
represented before him in visual shape, and as 
if with a kind of life and historical reality in it. 
Now doubtless there is such a law, and it is one 
of the deepest in human nature ; neither need we 
doubt that it did operate fundamentally in this 
business. The hypothesis which ascribes Pagan- 
ism wholly or mostly to this agency, I call a little 
more respectable ; but I cannot yet call it the 
true hypothesis. Think, would we believe, and 
take with us as our life-guidance, an allegory, a 
poetic sport ? Not sport but earnest is what we 
should require. It is a most earnest thing to be 
alive in this world ; to die is not sport for a man. 
Man's life never was a sport to him ; it was a. 
stern reality, altogether a serious matter to be alive J ' 

12 lectures on Iberoes. 

I find, therefore, that though these Allegor3P 
theorists are on the way towards truth in this 
matter, they have not reached it either. Pagan 
Religion is indeed an Allegory, a Symbol of what 
men felt and knew about the Universe ; and all 
Religions are symbols of that, altering always as 
that alters : but it seems to me a radical perversion, 
and even ///version, of the business, to put that 
forward as the origin and moving cause, when it 
was rather the result and termination. To get 
beautiful allegories, a perfect poetic symbol, was 
not the want of men ; but to know what they were 
to believe about this Universe, what course they 
were to steer in it ; what, in this mysterious Life 
of theirs, they had to hope and to fear, to do and 
to forbear doing. The Pilgrim'' s Progress is an 
Allegory, and a beautiful, just and serious one : 
but consider whether Bunyan's Allegory could 
have preceded the Faith it symbolizes ! The 
Faith had to be already there, standing believed 
by everybody ; — or which the Allegory could the7i 
become a shadow ; and with all its seriousness, 
we may say a sp07'tfiU shadow, a mere play of the 
Fancy, in comparison with that awful Fact and 
scientific certainty which it poetically strives to 
emblem. The Allegory is the product of the cer- 
tainty, not the producer of it ; not in Bunyan's 
nor in any other case. For Paganism, therefore, 
we have still to inquire. Whence came that 
scientific certainty, the parent of such a bewildered 
heap of allegories, errors and confusions ? How 
was it, what was it ? 

Surely it were a foolish attempt to pretend 
* explaining,' in this place, or in any place, such 

vlbc 1bcro as 2)ivimt2. 13 

a phenomenon as that far-distant distracted cloudy 
imbroglio of Paganism, — more like a cloudfield 
than a distant continent of firm land and facts } 
It is no longer a reality, yet it was one. We 
ought to understand that this seeming cloudfield 
was once a reality ; that not poetic allegory, least 
of all that dupery and deception was the origin 
of it. Men, I say, never did believe idle songs, 
never risked their soul's life on allegories : men 
in all times, especially in early earnest times, have 
had an instinct for detecting quacks, for detest- 
ing quacks. Let us try if, leaving out both the 
quack theory and the allegory one, and listening 
with affectionate attention to that far-off confused 
rumor of the Pagan ages, we cannot ascertain so 
much as this at least, That there was a kind of fact 
at the heart of them ; that they too were not menda- 
cious and distracted, but in their own poor way 
true and sane ! 

You remember that fancy of Plato's, of a man 
who had grown to maturity in some dark distance, 
and was brought on a sudden into the upper air 
CO see the sun rise. What would his wonder be, 
nis rapt astonishment at the sight we daily wit- 
ness with indifference ! With the free open sense 
of a child, yet with the ripe faculty of a man, his 
whole heart would be kindled by that sight, he 
would discern it well to be Godlike, his soul 
would fall down in worship before it. Now, just 
such a childlike greatness was in the primitive 
nations. The first Pagan Thinker among rude 
men, the first man that began to think, was pre- 
cisely this child-man of Plato's. Simple, open 

14 Xecturcs on Iberoes, 

as a child, yet with the depth and strength of a 
man. Nature ha'd as yet no name to him ; he 
had not yet united under a name the infinite 
variety of sights, sounds, shapes and motions, 
which we now collectively name Universe, 
Nature, or the like, — and so with a name dismiss 
it from us. To the wild deep-hearted man all 
was yet new, not veiled under names or formulas ; 
it stood naked, flashing-in on him there, beautiful, 
awful, unspeakable. Nature was to this man, 
what to the Thinker and Prophet it forever is, 
/r/?/^rnatural. This green fiowery rock-built 
earth, the trees, the mountains, rivers, many- 
sounding seas ; — that great deep sea of azure 
that swims overhead ; the winds sweeping through 
it ; the black cloud fashioning itself together, 
now pouring out fire, now hail and rain ; what zs 
it .? Ay, what ? At bottom we do not yet know ; 
we can never know at all. It is not by our 
superior insight that we escape the difficulty ; it 
is by our superior levity, our inattention, our 
wa/if of insight. It is by not thinking that we 
cease: to wonder at it. Hardened round us, en- 
casing wholly every notion we form, is a wrap- 
page of traditions, hearsays, mere words. We 
call that fire of the black thunder-cloud * elec- 
tricity,' and lecture learnedly about it, and grind 
the like of it out of glass and silk : but what is 
it ? What made it ? Whence comes it ? Whither 
goes it ? Science has done much for us ; but it 
is a poor science that wotild hide from us the 
great deep sacred infinitude of Nescience, whither 
we can never penetrate, on which all science 
swims as a mere superficial film. This world, 

/ c:3e fjcvo as ^ivtmts. 15 

after all our science and sciences, is still a mir- 
acle ; wonderful, inscrutable, magical and more, 
to whosoever will think of it. 

That great mystery of Time, were there no 
other ; the illimitable, silent, never-resting thing 
called Time, rolling, rushing on, swift, silent, like 
an all-embracing ocean-tide, on which we and all 
the Universe swim like exhalations, like app-^' ' 
tions which are^ and then are not : this is forever 
very literally a miracle \ a thing to strike us 
dumb, — for we have no word to speak about it. 
This Universe, ah me — what could the wild 
man know of it ; what can we yet know ? That 
it is a Force, and thousandfold Complexity of 
Forces ; a Force which is not we. That is all ; it 
is not we, it is altogether different from us. Force, 
Force, everywhere Force ; we ourselves a mysteri- 
ous Force in the centre of that. ' There is not a 
leaf rotting on the highway but has Force in it : 
how else could it rot ? ' Nay surely, to the 
Atheistic Thinker, if such a one were possible, 
it must be a miracle too, this huge illimitable 
whirlwind of Force, which envelops us here ; 
never-resting whirlwind, high as Immensity, old 
as Eternity. What is W. God's creation, the 
religious people answer; it is the Almighty 
God's ! Atheistic science babbles poorly of it, 
with scientific nomenclatures, experiments, and 
what not, as if it were a poor dead thing, to be 
bottled-up in Leyden jars and sold over counters ; 
but the natural sense of man, in all times, if he 
will honestly apply his sense, proclaims it to 
be a living thing, — ah, an unspeakable, godlike 
thing ; towards which the best attitude for us, 

i6 Xectures on Ibcroes. 

after never so much science, is awe, devout pros< 
tration and humility of soul , worship if not in 
words, then in silence. 

But now I remark farther: What in such a 
time as ours it requires a Prophet or Poet to 
teach us, namely, the stripping-off those poor 
undevout wrappages, nomenclatures and scientific 
hearsays, — this, the ancient earnest soul, as yet 
unencumbered with these things, did for itself. 
The world, which is now divine only to the gifted, 
was then divine to whosoever would turn his eye 
upon it. He stood bare before it face to face. 
* All was Godlike or God : ' — Jean Paul still finds 
it so ; the giant Jean Paul, who has power to 
escape out of hearsays : but there then were no 
hearsays. Canopus shining-down over the desert, 
with its blue diamond brightness (that wild blue 
spirit-like brightness, far brighter than we ever 
wdtness here), would pierce into the heart of the 
wild Ishmaelitish man, whom it was guiding 
through the solitary waste there. To his wild 
heart, with all feelings in it, with no speech for 
any feeling, it might seem a little eye, that Cano- 
pus, glancing-out on him from the great deep 
Eternity ; revealing the inner Splendor to him. 
Cannot we understand how these men worshipped 
Canopus; became what we call Sabeans, wor- 
shipping the stars t Such is to me the secret of 
all forms of Paganism. Worship is transcend- 
ent wonder ; wonder for which there is now no 
limit or measure ; that is worship. To these 
primeval men, all things and everything they 
saw exist beside them were an emblem of the 
Godlike, of some God. 

(Tbe 1bero as Divinity. 17 

And look what perennial fibre of truth was in 
that. To us also, through every star, through 
every blade of grass, is not a God made visible, 
if we will open our minds and eyes ? We do not 
worship in that way now : but is it not reckoned 
still a merit, proof of what we call a 'poetic nature,' 
that we recognize how every object has a divine 
beauty in it ; how every object still verily is 
' a window through which we may look into Infin- 
itude itself ' ? He that can discern the loveliness 
of things, we call him Poet, Painter, Man of 
Genius, gifted, lovable. These poor Sabeans did 
even what he does, — in their own fashion. That 
they did it, in what fashion soever, was a merit : 
better than what the entirely stupid man did, 
what the horse and camel did, — namely, nothing ! 

But now if all things whatsoever that we look 
upon are emblems to us of the Highest God, I 
add that more so than any of them is man such 
an emblem. You have heard of St. Chrysostom's 
celebrated saying in reference to the Shekinah, 
or Ark of Testimony, visible Revelation of God, 
among the Hebrews : " The true Shekinah is 
Man ! " Yes, it is even so : this is no vain phrase ; 
it is veritably so. The essence of our being, the 
mystery in us that calls itself " I,"^ah, what 
words have we for such things ? — is a breath of 
Heaven ; the Highest Being reveals himself in 
man. This body, these faculties, this life of ours, 
is it not all as a vesture for that Unnamed.'* 
'There is but one Temple in the Universe,' says 
the devout Novalis, ' and that is the Body of 
* Man. Nothing is holier than that high form. 
'Bending before men is a reverence done to this 

38 Xectures on Iberocs, 

^ Revelation in the Flesh. We touch Heaven 
* when we lay our hand on a human body ! ' This 
sounds much like a mere flourish of rhetoric ; but 
it is not so. If well meditated, it will turn out 
to be a scientific fact ; the expression^ in such 
words as can be had, of the actual truth of the 
thing. IVe are the miracle of miracles, — the 
great inscrutable mystery of God. We cannot 
understand it, we know not how to speak of it ; 
but we may feel and know, if we like, that it is 
A^erily so. 

Well ; these truths were once more readily 
felt than now. The young generations of the 
world, who had in them the freshness of young 
children, and yet the depth of earnest men, who 
did not think that they had finished-off all things > 
in Heaven and Earth by merely giving them 
scientific names, but had to gaze direct at them 
there, with awe and wonder : they felt better 
what of divinity is in man and Nature ; — they, 
without being mad, could zvorship Nature, and 
man more than anything else in Nature. Wor- 
ship, that is, as I said above, admire without 
limit : this, in the full use of their faculties, with 
all sincerity of heart, they could do. I consider 
Hero-worship to be the grand modifying element 
in that ancient system of thought. What I called 
the perplexed jungle of Paganism sprang, we may 
say, out of many roots : every admiration, ado- 
ration of a star or natural object, was a root or 
fibre of a root ; but Hero-worship is the deepest 
root of all ; the tap-root, from which in a great 
degree all the rest were nourished and grown. 

And now if worship even of a star had some 

XLbc Ibero as Wivinit^. ig 

meaning in it, how much more might that of a 
Hero ! Worship of a Hero is transcendent admi- 
ration of a Great Man. I say great men are still 
admirable ; I say there is, at bottom, nothing 
else admirable ! No nobler feeling than this of 
admiration for one higher than himself dwells in 
the breast of man. It is to this hour, and at all 
hours, the vivifying influence in man's life. Re- 
ligion I find stand upon it ; not Paganism only, 
but far higher and truer religions, — all religion 
hitherto known. Hero-worship, heartfelt pros- 
trate admiration, submission, burning, boundless, 
for a noblest godlike Form of Man, — is not that 
the germ of Christianity itself ? The greatest of 
all Heroes is One — whom we do not name here! 
Let sacred silence meditate that sacred matter ; 
you will find it the ultimate perfection of a prin- 
ciple extant throughout man's whole history on 

Or coming into lower, less ?/';/speakable prov- 
inces, is not all Loyalty akin to religious Faith also ? 
Faith is loyalty to some inspired Teacher, some 
spiritual Hero. And what therefore is loyalty 
proper, the life-breath of all society, but an efflu- 
ence of Hero-worship, submissive admiration for 
the truly great ? Society is founded on Hero- 
worship. All dignities of rank, on which human 
association rests, are what we may call a HeroRr- 
chy (Government of Heroes), — or a Hierarchy, 
for it is ' sacred ' enough withal ! The Duke means 
Dux, Leader ; King is Kon-ning, Kan-m?ig, Man 
that knows or cans. Society everywhere is some 
representation, not //^supportably inaccurate, of 
a graduated Worship of Heroes ; — reverence and 


20 Xectures on Iberoes. 

obedience done to men really great and wise. 
Not ///supportably inaccurate I say ! They are all 
as bank-notes, these social dignitaries, all repre- 
senting gold ; — and several of them, alas, always 
are forged notes. We can do with some forged 
false notes ; with a good many even ; but not with 
all, or the most of them forged ! No : there have 
to come revolutions then ; cries of Democracy, 
Liberty and Equality, and I know not what : — 
the notes being all false, and no gold to be had 
for them, people take to crying in their despair 
that there is no gold, that there never was any ! 
— * Gold,' Hero-worship, is nevertheless, as it was 
always and everywhere, and cannot cease till man 
himself ceases. 

I am well aware that in these days Hero-wor- 
ship, the thing I call Hero-worship, professes to 
have gone out, and finally ceased. This, for 
reasons which it will be worth while some time 
to inquire into, is an age that as it were denies 
the existence of great men ; denies the desirable- 
ness of great men. Show our critics a great 
man, a Luther for example, they begin to what 
they call ' account ' for him ; not to worship him, 
but take the dimensions of him, — and bring him 
out to be a little kind of man ! He was the 
* creature of the Time,' they say ; the Time 
called him forth, the Time did everything, he 
nothing — but what we the little critic could have 
done too ! This seems to me but melancholy 
work. The Time call forth ? Alas, we have 
known Times call loudly enough for their great 
man ; but not find him when they called ! He 
was not there ; Providence had not sent him ; 

Zbc Ibero as 5)ivlnft^. 21 

the Time, calling its loudest, had to go down to 
confusion and wreck because he would not come 
when called. 

For if we will think of it, no Time need have 
gone to ruin, could it have foimd a man great 
enough, a man wise and good enough : wisdom 
to discern truly what the Time wanted, valor to 
lead it on the right road thither ; these are the 
salvation of any Time. But I liken common 
languid Times, with their unbelief, distress, per- 
plexity, with their languid doubting characters and 
embarrassed circumstances, impotently crum- 
bling-down into ever worse distress towards final 
ruin : — all this I liken to dry dead fuel, waiting 
for the lightning out of Heaven that shall kindle 
it. The great man, with his free force direct out 
of God's own hand, is the lightning. His word 
is the wise healing word which all can believe in. 
All blazes round him now, when he has once 
struck on it, into fire like his own. The dry 
mouldering sticks are thought to have called him 
forth. They did want him greatly ; but as to 
calling him forth — ! — Those are critics of small 
vision, I think, who cry : " See, is it not the 
sticks that made the fire ? " No sadder proof 
can be given by a man of his own littleness than 
disbelief in great men. There is no sadder symp- 
tom of a generation than such general blindness 
to the spiritual lightning, with faith only in the 
heap of barren dead fuel. It is the last consum- 
mation of unbelief. In all epochs of the world's 
history, we shall find the Great Man to have been 
the indispensable saviour of his epoch ; — the 
lightning, without which the fuel never would have 

22 Xectures on Ibcroes. 

burnt. The History of the World, I said already, 
was the Biography of Great Men. 

Such small critics do what they can to promote 
unbelief and universal spiritual paralysis : but 
happily they cannot always completely succeed. 
In all times it is possible for a man to arise great 
enough to feel that they and their doctrines are 
chimeras and cobwebs. And what is notable, in 
no time whatever can they entirely eradicate out 
of living men's hearts a certain altogether pecul- 
iar reverence for Great Men ; genuine admira- 
tion, loyalty, adoration, however dim and per- 
verted it may be. Hero-worship endures forever 
while man endures. Boswell venerates his John- 
son, right truly even in the Eighteenth century. 
The unbelieving French believe in their Voltaire ; 
and burst out round him into very curious Hero- 
worship, in that last act of his life when they 
* stifle him under roses.' It has always seemed 
to me extremely curious this of Voltaire. Truly, 
if Christianity be the highest instance of Hero- 
worship, then we may find here in Voltaireism 
one of the lowest ! He whose life was that of a 
kind of Antichrist, does again on this side exhibit 
a curious contrast. No people ever were so 
little prone to admire at all as those French of 
Voltaire. Peisifiage was the character of their 
whole mind ; adoration had nowhere a place in 
it. Yet see ! The old man of Ferney comes up 
to Paris ; an old, tottering, infirm man of eighty- 
four years. They feel that he too is a kind of 
Hero ; that he has spent his life in opposing 
error and injustice, delivering Calases, unmask- 
ing hypocrites in high places ; — in short that he 

^be 1bero as 2)ivinit^. 23 

too, though in a strange way, has fought like a 
valiant man. They feel withal that, if persiflage 
be the great thing, there never was such 2, per si- 
fleur. H'e is the realized ideal of every one of 
them; the thing they are all wanting to be; of all 
Frenchmen the most French. He is properly their 
god, — such god as they are fit for. Accordingly 
all persons, from the Queen Antoinette to the 
Douanier at the Porte St. Denis, do they not 
worship him t People of quality disguise them- 
selves as tavern-waiters. The Maitre de Poste, 
w^ith a broad oath, orders his Postilion, " Va 
bon train ; thou art driving M. de Voltaire." 
At Paris his carriage is ' the nucleus of a comet, 
whose train fills whole streets.' The ladies 
pluck a hair or two from his fur, to keep it as a 
sacred relic. There was nothing highest, beauti- 
f ulest, noblest in all France, that did not feel this 
man to be higher, beautifuler, nobler. 

Yes, from Norse Odin to English Samuel 
Johnson, from the divine Founder of Christianity 
to the withered Pontiff of Encyclopedism, in all 
times and places, the Hero has been worshipped. 
It will ever be so. We all love great men : love, 
venerate and bow down submissive before great 
men : nay can we honestly bow down to anything 
else } Ah, does not every true man feel that he 
is himself made higher by doing reverence to 
what is really above him 1 No nobler or more 
blessed feeling dwells in man's heart. And to 
me it is very cheering to consider that no scep- 
tical logic, or general triviality, insincerity and 
aridity of any Time and its influences can destroy 
this noble inborn loyalty and worship that is in 

24- Xectures on Iberoes. 

man. In times of unbelief, which soon have to 
become times of revolution, much down-rushing, 
sorrowful decay and ruin is visible to everybody. 
For myself in these days, I seem to see in this 
indestructibility of Hero-worship the everlasting 
adamant lower than which the confused wreck of 
revolutionary things cannot fall. The confused 
wreck of things crumbling and even crashing and 
tumbling all round us in these revolutionary 
ages, will get down so far ; no farther. It is an 
eternal corner-stone, from which they can begin 
to build themselves up again. That man, in some 
sense or other, worships Heroes ; that we all of 
us reverence and must ever reverence Great Men : 
this is, to me, the living rock amid all rushings- 
down whatsover ; — the one fixed point in modern 
revolutionary history, otherwise as if bottomless 
and shoreless. 

So much of truth, only under an ancient obsolete 
vesture, but the spirit of it still true, do I find in 
the Paganism of old nations. Nature is still 
divine, the revelation of the workings of God ; 
the Hero is still worshipable : this under poor 
cramped incipient forms, is what all Pagan relig- 
ions have struggled, as they could, to set forth. 
I think Scandinavian Paganism, to us here, is 
more interesting than any other. It is, for one 
thing, the latest ; it continued in these regions of 
Europe till the eleventh century : eight-hundred 
years ago the Norwegians were still worshippers of 
Odin. It is interesting also as the creed of our 
fathers ; the men whose blood still runs in our 
veins, whom doubtless we still resemble in so 

^be 1bcro as Divinity. 25^ 

many ways. Strange: they did believe that, 
while we believe so differently. Let us look a 
little at this poor Norse creed, for many reasons. 
We have tolerable means to do it ; for there is 
another point of interest in these Scandinavian 
mythologies : that they have been preserved so 

In that strange island Iceland, — burst-up, the 
geologists say, by hre from the bottom of the 
sea ; a wild land of barrenness and lava ; swal- 
lowed many months of every year in black tem- 
pests, yet with a wild gleaming beauty in summer- 
time ; towering up there, stern and grim, in the 
North Ocean ; with its snow jokuls, roaring geysers 
sulphur-pools and horrid volcanic chasms, like 
Ihe waste chaotic battle-field of Frost and Fire ; 
— where of all places we least looked for Litera- 
ture or written memorials, the record of these 
things was written down. On the seaboard of 
this wild land is a rim of grassy country where 
cattle can subsist, and men by means of them and 
of what the sea yields ; and it seems they were 
poetic men these, men who had deep thoughts 
in them, and uttered musically their thoughts. 
Much would be lost, had Iceland not been burst- 
up from the sea, not been discovered by the 
Northmen ! The old Norse Poets were many of 
them natives of Iceland. 

Saemund, one of the early Christian Priests 
there, who perhaps had a lingering fondness for 
Paganism, collected certain of their old Pagan 
songs, just about becoming obsolete then, — Poems 
or Chants of a mythic, prophetic, mostly all of 
a religious character : that is what Norse critics 

^6 Xectut:e6 on Iberoes. 

call the Elder or Poetic Edda. Edda, a word of 
uncertain etymology, is thought to signify AnceS' 
tress. Snorro Sturleson, an Iceland gentleman, 
an extremely notable personage, educated by 
this Ssemund's grandson, took in hand next, near 
a century sffterwards, to put together, among 
several other books he wrote, a kind of Prose 
Synopsis of the whole Mythology ; elucidated by 
new fragments of traditionary verse. A work 
constructed really with great ingenuity, native 
talent, what one might call unconscious art ; alto- 
gether a perspicuous clear work, pleasant reading 
still : this is the Younger or Prose Edda. By 
these and the numerous other Sagas, mostly Ice- 
landic, with the commentaries, Icelandic or not, 
which go on zealously in the North to this day, 
it is possible to gain some direct insight even yet; 
and see that old Norse system of Belief, as it 
were, face to face. Let us forget that it is erro- 
neous Religion ; let us look at it as old Thought, 
and try if we cannot sympathize with It some- 

The primary characteristic of this old North- 
land Mythology I find to be Impersonation o£ 
the visible workings of Nature. Earnest simple 
recognition of the workings of Physical Nature, 
as a thing wholly miraculous, stupendous and 
divine. What we now lecture of as Science, they 
wondered at, and fell down in awe before, as 
Religion. The dark hostile Powers of Nature 
they figure to themselves as '•ydtuns,^ Giants, 
huge shaggy beings of a demonic character. 
Frost, Fire, Sea-tempest ; these are Jotuns. The 
friendly Powers again, as Summer-heat, the Sun, 

^be tbcro as WiviniX^. 27 

are Gods. The empire of this Universe is divided 
between these two ; they dwell apart, in perennial 
internecine feud. The Gods dwell above in 
Asgard, the Garden of the Asen, or Divinities ; 
Jotunheim, a distant dark chaotic land, is the 
home of the Jotuns. 

Curious all this ; and not idle or inane, if we 
will look at the foundation of it ! The power of 
jFi're, or Flame, for instance, which we designate 
by some trivial chemical name, thereby hiding 
from ourselves the essential character of wonder 
that dwells in it as in all things, is with these old 
Northmen, Loke, a most swift subtle De?no?i, of 
the brood of the Jotuns. The savages of the 
Ladrones Islands too (say some Spanish voyagers) 
thought Fire, wJiich they never had seen before, 
■was a devil or god, that bit you sharply when you 
touched it, and that lived upon dry wood. From 
us too no Chemistry, if it had not Stupidity to 
help it, would hide that Flame is a wonder. 
What is Flame ? — Frost the old Norse Seer dis- 
cerns to be a monstrpus hoary Jotun, the Giant 
T/irym, Hrym ; or Rime, the old word now nearly 
obsolete here, but still used in Scotland to signify 
hoar-frost. Rime was not then as now a dead 
chemical thing, but a living Jotun or Devil ; the 
monstrous Jotun Rime drove home his Horses 
at night, sat ' combing their manes,' — which 
Horses were Hail- Clouds, or fleet Frost- Winds. 
His Cows — No, not his, but a kinsman's, the 
Giant Hymir's Cows are Icebergs : this Hymir 
* looks at the rocks ' with his devil-eye, and they 
sj^lit in the glance of it. 

Thunder was not then mere Electricity, vitreous 

22> Xectures on Iberoes, 

or resinous ; it was the God Donner (Thunder) 
or Thor, — God also of beneficent Summer-heat. 
The thunder was his wrath ; the gathering of the 
black clouds is the drawing-down of Thor's angry 
brows ; the lire-bolt bursting out of Heaven is 
the all-rending Hammer flung from the hand of 
Thor : he urges his loud chariot over the mount- 
ain-tops, — that is the peal ; wrathful he ' blows 
in his red beard,' — that is the rustling stormblast 
before the thunder begin. Balder again, the 
White God, the beautiful, the just and benignant, 
(whom the early Christian Missionaries found to 
resemble Christ), is the Sun, — beautifulest of 
visible things ; wondrous too, and divine still, 
after all our Astronomies and Almanacs ! But 
perhaps the notablest god we hear tell-of is one 
of whom Grimm the German Etymologist finds 
trace: the God Wiinsch, or Wish. The God 
Wish ; who could give us all that we wished ! Is 
not this the sincerest and yet rudest voice of the 
spirit of man .? The rudest ideal that man ever' 
formed ; which still shows itself in the latest 
forms of our spiritual culture. Higher consider- 
ations have to teach us that the God Wish is not 
the true God. 

Of the other Gods or Jotuns I will mention 
only for etymology's sake, that Sea-tempest is the 
Jotun Aegir, a very dangerous Jotun ; — and now 
to this day, on our river Trent, as I learn, the 
Nottingham bargemen, when the River is in a 
certain flooded state (a kind of backwater, or 
eddying swirl it has, very dangerous to them), 
call it Eager ; they cry out, " Have a care, there 
is the Eager coming ! " Curious ; that word 

XLbc Ibero as 5)lvinlt^. 29 

surviving, like the peak of a submerged world ! 
The oMesf Nottingham bargemen had believed in 
the God Aegir. Indeed our English blood too in 
good part is Danish, Norse ; or rather, at bottom, 
Danish and Norse and Saxon have no distinction, 
except a superficial one, — as of Heathen and 
Christian, or the like. But all over our Island we 
are mingled largely with Danes proper, — from the 
incessant invasions there were : and this, of 
course, in a greater proportion along the east 
coast ; and greatest of all, as I find, in the North 
Country. From the Humber upwards, all over 
Scotland, the Speech of the common people is 
still in a singular degree Icelandic ; its Germanism 
has still a peculiar Norse tinge. They too are 
'Normans,' Northmen, — if that be any great 
beauty ! — 

Of the chief god, Odin, we shall speak by and 
by. Mark at present so much ; what the essence 
of Scandinavian and indeed of all Paganism is : 
a recognition of the forces of Nature as godlike, 
stupendous, personal Agencies, — as Gods and 
Demons. Not inconceivable to us. It • is the 
infant Thought of man opening itself, with awe 
and wonder, on this ever-stupendous Universe. 
To me there is in the Norse System something 
very genuine, very great and manlike. A broad 
simplicity, rusticity, so very different from the 
light gracefulness of the old Greek Paganism, 
distinguishes this Scandinavian System. It is 
Thought ; the genuine Thought of deep, rude, 
earnest minds, fairly opened to the things about 
them ; a face-to-face and heart-to-heart inspection 
of the things, — the first characteristic of all good 

30 Xectures on Ibcroes. 

Thought in all times. Not graceful lightness, half- 
sport, as in the Greek Paganism ; a certain homely 
truthfulness and rustic strength, a great rude 
sincerity, discloses itself here. It is strange, 
after our beautiful Apollo statues and clear smil- 
ing mythuses, to come down upon the Norse Gods 
'brewing ale ' to hold their feast with Aegir, the 
Sea-Jotun ; sending out Thor to get the caldron 
for them in the Jotun country; Thor, after many 
adventures, clapping the Pot on his head, like a 
huge hat, and walking off with it, — quite lost in 
it, the ears of the Pot reaching down to his heels ! 
A kind of vacant hugeness, large awkward giant- 
hood, characterizes that Norse System ; enormous 
force, as yet altogether untutored, stalking help- 
less with large uncertain strides. Consider only 
their primary mythus of the Creation. The Gods, 
having got the Giant Ymer slain, a Giant made 
by 'warm wind,' and much confused work, out of 
the conflict of Frost and Fire, — determined on 
constructing a world with him. His blood made 
the Sea ; his flesh was the Land, the Rocks his 
bones ; of his eyebrows they formed Asgard their 
Gods'-dwelling ; his skull was the great blue vault 
of Immensity, and the brains of it became the 
Clouds. What a Hyper-Brobdignagian business ! 
Untamed Thought, great, giantlike, enormous ; — 
to be tamed in due time into the compact great- 
ness, not giantlike, but godlike and stronger 
than gianthood, of the Shakspeares, the Goethes ! 
— Spiritually as well as bodily these men are our 

I like, too, that representation they have of the 
Tree Igdrasil. All Life is figured by them as a 

^be 1bero as Divinity. 31 

Tree. Igdrasil, the Ash-tree of Existence, has 
its roots deep-down in the kingdoms of Hela or 
Death ; its trunk reaches up heaven-high, spreads 
its boughs over the whole Universe : it is the Tree 
of Existence. At the foot of it, in the Death- 
kingdom, sit Thre^ Nortias, Fates, — the Past, 
Present, Future ; watering its roots from the 
Sacred Well. Its ' boughs,' with their buddings 
and dislealings, — events, things suffered, things 
done, catastrophes, — stretch through all lands and 
times. Is not every leaf of it a biography, every 
fibre there an act or word ? Its boughs are His- 
tories of Nations. The rustle of it is the noise of 
Human Existence, onwards from of old. It grows 
there, the breath of Human Passion rustling 
through it ; — or stormtost, the stormwind howling 
through it like the voice of all the gods. It is 
Igdrasil, the Tree of Existence. It is the past, 
the present, and the future ; what was done, what 
is doing, what will be done ; ' the infinite conjuga- 
tion of the verb TodoJ Considering how human 
things circulate, each inextricably in communion 
•with all, — how the word I speak to you to-day is 
borrowed, not from Ulfila the Moesogoth only, but 
from all men since the first man began to speak, 
— I find no similitude so true as this of a Tree. 
Beautiful ; altogether beautiful and great. The 
^Machine of the Universe,' — alas, do but think of 
that in contrast ! 

Well, it is strange enough this old Norse view 
of Nature ; different enough from what we believe 
of Nature. Whence it specially came, one would 
not like to be compelled to say very minutely ! 

32 Xecturcs on fberoes. 

One thing we may say : It came from the thoughts 
of Norse men ; — from the thought, above all, of 
the Jirsf Norse man who had an original power of 
thinking. The First Norse ' man of genius,' as 
we should call him ! Innumerable men had 
passed by, across this Universe, with a dumb 
vague wonder, such as the very animals may feel ; 
or with a painful, fruitlessly inquiring wonder, 
such as men only feel ; — till the great Thinker 
came, the original man, the Seer ; whose shaped 
spoken Thought awakes the slumbering capability 
of all into thought. It is ever the way with the 
Thinker, the spiritual Hero. What he says, all 
men were not far from saying, were longing to 
say. The Thoughts^of all start up, as from pain- 
ful enchanted sleep, round his Thought ; answer- 
ing to it, Yes, even so ! Joyful to men as the 
dawning of day from night ; — is it not, indeed, the 
awakening for them from no-being into being, 
from death into Hfe ? We still honor such a 
man ; call him Poet, Genius, and so forth : but 
to these wild men he was a very magician, a 
worker of miraculous unexpected blessing for 
ti^^ ; a Prophet, a God ! — Thought once awak- 
ened does not again slumber ; unfolds itself into 
a Sys^m of Thought ; grows, in man after man, 
generation after generation, — till its full stature 
is reached, aad su{:/i System of Thought can grow 
no farther, but must give place to another. 

For the Norse people, the Man now named Odin, 
and Chief Norse God, we fancy, was such a man. 
A Teacher, and Captain of soul and of body ; a 
Hero, of worth ^measurable ; admiration for 
whom, transcending the known bounds, became 

^be 1bcro as Divinity. ;^^ 

adoration. Has he not the power of articulate 
Thinking ; and many other powers, as yet mirac- 
ulous ? So, with boundless gratitude, would the 
rude Norse heart feel. Has he not solved for them 
the sphinx-enigma of this Universe ; given assur- 
ance to them of their own destiny there ? By 
him they know now what they have to do here, 
what to look for hereafter. Existence has be- 
come articulate, melodious by him ; he first has 
made Life alive ! — We may call this Odin, the 
origin of Norse Mythology : Odin, or whatever 
name the First Norse Thinker bore while he was 
a man among men. His view of the Universe 
once promulgated, a like view starts into being 
in all minds ; grows, keeps ever growing, while it 
continues credible there. In all minds it lay 
written, but invisibly, as in sympathetic ink ; at 
his word it starts into visibility in all. Nay, in 
every epoch of the world, the great event, parent 
of all others, is it not the arrival of a Thinker in 
the world ! — 

One other thing we must not forget ; it will 
explain, a little, the confusion of these Norse 
Eddas. They are not one coherent System of 
Thought ; but properly the summation of several 
successive systems. All this of the ol^ Norse 
Belief which is fiung-out for us, in one level of 
distance in the Edda, like a picture painted on 
the same canvas, does not at all stand so in the 
reality. It stands rather at all manner of distances 
and depths, of successive generations since the 
Belief first began. All Scandinavian thinkers, 
since the first of them,' contributed to that Scandi- 
navian System of Thought ; in ever-new elabora- 

34 Xecturcs on fberoes, 

tion and addition, it is the combined work of 
tliem all. What history it had, how it changed, 
from shape to shape, by one thinker's contribu- 
tion after another, till it got to the full final 
shape we see it under in the Edda, no man 
will now ever know : its Councils of Trebisond, 
Councils of Trent, Athanasiuses, Dantes, Luthers, 
are sunk without echo in the dark night ! Only 
that it had such a history we can all know. 
Wheresoever a thinker appeared, there in the 
thing he thought-of was a contribution, accession, 
a change or revolution made. Alas, the grandest: 
' revolution ' of all, the one made by the man 
Odin himself, is not this too sunk for us like the 
rest ! Of Odin what history t Strange rather" 
to reflect that he had a history ! That this Odin, 
in his wild Norse vesture, with his wild beard 
and eyes, his rude Norse speech and ways, was 
a man like us; with our sorrows, joys, with our 
limbs, features ; — intrinsically all one as we : 
and did such a work ! But the work, much of it, 
has perished ; the worker, all to the name. 
" IVednes d2iy,''^ men will say to-morrow ; Odin's- 
day ! Of Odin there exists no history ; no docu- 
ment of it ; no guess about it worth repeating. 

Snorro indeed, in the quietest manner, almost 
in a brief business style, writes down, in his 
Heimskringla, how Odin was a heroic Prince, in 
the Black-Sea region, with Twelve Peers, and a 
gjeat people straitened for room. How he led 
these Asen (Asiatics) of his out of Asia ; settled 
them in the North parts of Europe, by warlike 
conquest ; invented Letters, Poetry and so forth, 
— and came by and by to be worshipped as Chief 

®l)e ijero as Di^init^. 35 

God by these Scandinavians, his Twelve Peers 
made into Twelve Sons of his own, Gods like 
himself : Snorro has no doubt of this. Saxo 
Grammaticus, a very curious Northman of that 
same century, is still more unhesitating ; scruples 
not to iind out a historical fact in every individual 
mythus, and writes it down as a terrestrial event 
in Denmark or elsewhere. Torfsus, learned and 
cautious, some centuries later, assigns by calcula- 
tion a date for it : Odin, he says, came into Europe 
about the Year 70 before Christ. Of all which, 
as grounded on mere uncertainties, found to be 
untenable now, I need say nothing. Far, very 
far beyond the Year 70 ! Odin's date, adventures, 
whole terrestrial history, figure and environment 
are sunk from us forever into unknown thousands 
of years. 

Nay Grimm, the German Antiquary, goes so 
far as to deny that any man Odin ever existed. 
He proves it by etymology. The word JVjcotan, 
which is the original form of 0dm, a word spread, 
as name of their chief Divinity, over all the 
Teutonic Nations everywhere ; this word, which 
connects itself, according to Grimm, with the 
Latin vadere, with the English wade and suchlike, 
— means primarily Move7?ient, Source of Move- 
ment, Power ; and is the ut name of the highest 
god, not of any man. The word signifies Divin- 
ity, he says, among the eld Saxon, German and 
all Teutonic Nations ; the adjectives formed from 
it all signify divine, supreme, or something per- 
taining to the chief god. Like enough ! We 
must bow to Grimm in matters etymological. 
Let us consider it fixed that Wuotan means 


36 Xectures on Ibcroes. 

Wadiftg, force of Movement And now still, what 
hinders it from being the name of a Heroic Man 
and Mover, as well as of a god ? As for the ad- 
jectives, and words formed from it, — did not the 
Spaniards in their universal admiration for Lope, 
get into the habit of saying ' a Lope flower,' ' a 
Lope dama,^ if the flower or woman were of sur- 
passing beauty ? Had this lasted. Lope would 
have grown, in Spain, to be an adjective signifying 
godlike also. Indeed, Adam Smith, in his Essay 
on Laftguage, surmises that all adjectives whatso- 
ever were formed precisely in that way : some 
very green thing, chiefly notable for its greenness, 
got the appellative name Gree?i, and then the 
next thing remarkable for that quality, a tree 
for instance, was named the gree7i tree, — as we 
still say * the steam coach,' ' four-horse coach,' or 
the like. All primary adjectives, according to 
Smith, were formed in this way ; were at first sub- 
stantives and things. We cannot annihilate a 
man for etymologies like that ! Surely there was 
a First Teacher and Captain ; surely there must 
have been an Odin, palpable to the sense at one 
time ; no adjective, but a real Hero of flesh and 
blood ! The voice of all tradition, history or echo 
of history, agrees with all that thought will teach 
one about it, to assure us of this. 

How the man Odin came to be considered a 
god, the chief god ? — that surely is a question 
which nobody would wish to dogmatize upon. I 
have said, his people knew no Hmifs to their 
admiration of him ; they had as yet no scale to 
measure admiration by. Fancy your own gener- 
ous heart's-love of some greatest man expanding 

^be Ibero as Divlnitis* 37 

till it transcended all bounds, till it filled and over- 
flowed the whole field of your thought ! Or what 
if this man Odin, — since a great deep soul, with 
the afflatus and mysterious tide of vision and im- 
pulse rushing on him he knows not whence, is 
ever an enigma, a kind of terror and wonder to 
himself, — should have felt that perhaps he was 
divine ; that he was some effluence of the ' Wuo- 
tan,' ' Movement,^ Supreme Power and Divinity, 
of whom to his rapt vision all Nature was the 
awful Flame-image ; that some effluence of Wuotan 
dwelt here in him ! He was not necessarily false ; 
he was but mistaken, speaking the truest he 
knew. A great soul, any sincere soul, knows not 
what he is, — alternates between the highest height 
and the lowest depth ; can, of all things, the least 
measure — Himself ! What others take him for, 
and what he guesses that he may be ; these two 
items strangely act on one another, help to deter- 
mine one another. With all men reverently admir- 
ing him ; with his own wild soul full of noble 
ardors and affections, of whirlwind chaotic dark- 
ness and glorious new light ; a divine Universe 
bursting all into godlike beauty round him, and 
no man to whom the like ever had befallen, what 
could he think himself to be t " Wuotan t " All 
men answered, " Wuotan ! " — 

And then consider what mere Time will do in 
such cases ; how if a man was great while living, 
he becomes tenfold greater when dead. What an 
enormous camera-obscura magnifier is Tradition ! 
How a thing grows in the human Memory, in the 
human Imagination, when love, worship and all 
that lies in the human Heart, is there to encour- 

38 Xectures on Iberoes. 

age it. And in the darkness, in the entire igno« 
ranee; without date or document, no book, no 
Arundel-marble ; only here and there some dumb 
monumental cairn. Why, in thirty or forty years, 
were there no books, any great man would gfow 
fuy/hic, the contemporaries who had seen hin), 
being once all dead. And in three-hundred years, 
and in three-thousand years — ! — To attempt 
theorizing on such matters would profit little : 
they are matters which refuse to be theoreined 
and diagramed ; which Logic ought to know that 
she caiinot speak of. Enough for us to discern, 
far in the uttermost distance, some gleam as of a 
small real light shining in the centre of that enor- 
mous camera-obscura image ; to discern that the 
centre of it all was not a madness and nothinof, 
but a sanity and something. 

This light, kindled in the great dark vortex of 
the Norse mind, dark but living, waiting only for 
light ; this is to me the centre of the whole. 
How such light will then shine out, and with won- 
drous thousandfold expansion spread itself, in 
forms and colors, depends not on //, so much as 
on the National Mind, recipient of it. The col- 
ors and forms of your light will be those of the 
cut-glass it has to shine through. — Curious to 
thmk how, for every man, any the truest fact is 
modelled by the nature of the man ! I said, The 
earnest man, speaking to his brother men, must 
always have stated what seemed to him 2ifacty a 
real Appearance of Nature. But the way in which 
such Appearance or fact shaped itself, — what sort 
x^ifact it became for him, — was and is modified by 
his own laws of thinking ; deep, subtle, but uni- 


Zbc 1bexo a6 2)ix>im. 


versal, ever-operating laws. The world of Nature^ 
for every man, is the Phantasy of Himself-, this 
world is the multiplex ' Image of his own Dream.' 
Who knows to what unnameable subtleties of 
spiritual law all these Pagan Fables owe their 
.shape ! The number Tzvdve^ divisiblest of all, 
wliich could be halved, quartered, parted into 
three, into six, the most remarkable number, — 
this was enough to determine the Signs of the 
Zodiac, the number of Odin's Sons, and innumer- 
able other Twelves. Any vague rumor of number 
had a tendency to settle itself into Twelve. So 
with regard to every other matter. And quite 
unconsciously too, — with no notion of building-up 
' Allegories ' ! But the fresh clear glance of those 
First Ages would be prompt in discerning the"" se- 
cret relations of things, and wholly open to obey 
these. Schiller finds in the Cestus of Venus an 
everlasting aesthetic truth as to the nature of all 
Beauty ; curious : — but he is careful not to insin- 
uate that the old Greek Mythists had any notion 
of lecturing about the ' Philosophy of Criticism ' ! 
On the whole, we must leave those bound- 
less regions. Cannot we conceive that Odin was 
a reality ? Error indeed, error enough : but sheer 
falsehood, idle fables, allegory aforethought, — we 
will not believe that our Fathers believed in 

Odin's Runes are a significant feature of him. 
Runes, and the miracles of ' magic ' he worked 
by them, make a great feature in tradition. Runes 
are the Scandinavian Alphabet ; suppose Odin to 
have been the inventor of Letters, as well as 
' magic ' among that people ! It is the greatest 

40 Xectures on Iberocs. 

invention man has ever made, this of marking- 
down the unseen thought that is in him by written 
characters. It is a kind of second speech, almost 
as miraculous as the first. You remember the 
astonishment and incredulity of Atahualpa the 
Peruvian King; how he made the Spanish Soldier 
who was guarding him scratch Dios on his thumb- 
nail, that he might try the next soldier with it, to 
ascertain whether such a miracle was possible. 
If Odin brought Letters among his people, he 
might work magic enough ! 

Writing by Runes has some air of being orig- 
inal among the Norsemen : not a Phoenician 
Alphabet, but a native Scandinavian one. Snorro 
tells us farther that Odin invented Poetry ; the 
music of human speech, as well as that miracu- 
lous runic marking of it. Transport yourselves 
into the early childhood of nations ; the first 
beautiful morning-light of our Europe, when all 
yet lay in fresh young radiance as of a great 
sunrise, and our Europe was first beginning to 
think, to be ! Wonder, hope ; infinite radiance of 
hope and wonder, as of a young child's thoughts, 
in the hearts of these strong men ! Strong sons 
of Nature; and here was not only a wild Captain 
and Fighter ; discerning with his wild flashing 
eyes what to do, with his wild lion-heart daring 
and doing it ; but a Poet too, all that we mean 
by a Poet, Prophet, great devout Thinker and 
Inventor, — as the truly Great Man ever is. A 
Hero is a Hero at all points ; in the soul and 
thought of him first of all. This Odin, in his 
rude semi-articulate way, had a word to speak. 
A great heart laid open to take in this great Uni- 

Zbc tbero as Divinity, 41 

verse, and man's Life here, and utter a great 
word about it. A hero, as I say, in his own rude 
manner ; j ^ise, g^ifted, noble-hearted man . And 
now, if westiii admire such a man beyond all 
others, what must these wild Norse souls, first 
awakened into thinking, have made of him ! To 
them, as yet without names for it, he was noble 
and noblest ; Hero, Prophet, God ; Wiwtan, the 
greatest of all. Thought is Thought, however it 
speak or spell itself. Intrinsically, I conjecture, 
this Odin must have been of the same sort of 
stuff as the greatest kind of men. A great 
thought in the wild deep heart of him ! The 
rough words he articulated, are they not the rudi- 
mental roots of those English words we still use ? 
He worked so, in that obscure element. But he 
was as a light kindled in it ; a light of Intellect, 
rude Nobleness of heart, the only kind of lights 
we have yet ; a Hero, as I say : and he had to 
shine there, and make his obscure element a little 
lighter, — as is still the task of us all. 

We will fancy him to be the Type Norseman ; 
the finest Teuton whom that race had yet pro- 
duced. The rude Norse heart burst-up into 
boundless admiration round him ; into adoration. 
He is as a root of so many great things ; the fruit 
of him is found growing, from deep thousands of 
years, over the whole field of Teutonic Life. Our 
own Wednesday, as I said, is it not still Odin's 
day ? Wednesbury, Wansborough, Wanstead, 
Wandsworth : Odin grew into England too, these 
are still leaves from that root ! He was the Chief 
God to all the Teutonic Peoples ; their Pattern 
Norseman ; — in such way did they admire their 

42 Xectures on Iberoes* 

Pattern Norseman ; that was the fortune he had 
in the world. 

Thus if the man Odin himself have vanished 
utterly, there is this huge Shadow of him which 
still projects itself over the whole History of his 
People. For this Odin once admitted to be God, 
we can understand well that the whole Scandi- 
navian Scheme of Nature, or dim No-scheme, 
whatever it might before have been, would now 
begin to develop itself altogether differently, and 
grow thenceforth in a new manner. What this 
Odin saw into, and taught with his runes and his 
rhymes, the whole Teutonic People laid to heart 
and carried forward. His way of thought became 
their way of thought : — such, under new condi- 
tions, is the history of every great thinker still. 
In gigantic confused lineaments, like some enor- 
mous camera-obscura shadow thrown upwards 
from the dead deeps of the Past, and covering 
the whole Northern Heaven, is not that Scandi- 
navian Mythology in some sort the Portraiture of 
thi§ man Odin ? The gigantic image of /lis natural 
face, legible or not legible there, expanded and 
confused in that manner ! Ah, Thought, I say, 
IS always Thought. No great man lives in va;n. 
The History of the world is but the Biography of 
great men. 

To me there is something very touching in this 
primeval figure of Heroism ; in such artless, help- 
less, but4iearty entire reception of a Hero by his 
fellow-men. Never so helpless in shape, it is the 
noblest of feelings, and a feeling in some shape 
or other perennial as man himself. If I could 
show in any measure, what I feel deeply for a 

^be 1bero tie Bivinlti^. 43 

long time now, That it is the vital element of 
manhood, the soul of man's history here in our 
world, — it would be the chief use of this discours- 
ing at present. We do not now call our great men 
Gods, nor admire witJiout limit ; ah no, with limit 
enough ! But if we have no great men, or do not 
admire at all, — that were a still worse case. 

This poor Scandinavian Hero-worship, that 
whole Norse way of looking at the Universe, and 
adjusting oneself there, has an indestructible 
merit for us. A rude childlike way of recognizing 
the divineness of Nature, the divineness of Man ; 
most rude, yet heartfelt, robust, giantlike ; betok- 
ening what a giant of a man this child would yet 
grow to ! — It was a truth, and is none. Is it not as 
the half-dumb stifled voice of the long-buried gen- 
erations of our own Fathers, calling out of the 
depth of ages to us, in whose veins their blood still 
runs : " This then, this is what we made of the 
world : this is all the image and notion we could 
form to ourselves of this great mystery of a Life 
and Universe. Despise it not. You are raised 
high above it, to large free scope of vision ; but 
you too are not yet at the top. No, your notion 
too, so much enlarged, is but a partial, imperfect 
one ; that matter is a thing no man will ever, in. 
time or out of time, comprehend ; after thousands- 
of years of ever-new expansion, man will find 
himself but struggling to comprehend again a 
part of it : the thing is larger than man, not to be^ 
comprehended by him ; an Infinite thing ! " 

The essence of the Scandinavian, as indeed of 
all Pagan Mythologies, we found to be recognition^ 

44 Xectures on Iberoes, 

of the divineness of Nature ; sincere communioti 
of man with the mysterious invisible Powers 
visibly seen at work in the world round him. 
This, I should say, is more sincerely done in the 
Scandinavian than in any Mythology I know. 
Sincerity is the great characteristic of it. Supe- 
rior sincerity (far superior) consoles us for the 
total want of old Grecian grace. Sincerity, I 
think, is better than grace. I feel that these old 
Northmen were looking into Nature with open 
eye and soul : most earnest, honest ; childlike, and 
yet manlike ; with a great-hearted simplicity and 
depth and freshness, in a true, loving, admiring, 
unfearing way. A right valiant, true old race of 
men. Such recognition of Nature one finds to Z 
be the chief element of Paganism : recognition "^ 
of Man, and his Moral Duty, though this too is 
not wanting, comes to be the chief element only 
in purer forms of religion. Here, indeed, is a 
great distinction and epoch in Human Beliefs; a 
great landmark in the religious development of 
Mankind. Man first puts himself in relation with 
Nature and her Powers, wonders and worships 
over those ; not till a later epoch does he discern 
that all Power is Moral, that the grand point is the 
distinction for him of Good and Evil, of T/iou 
shalt and Thou shalt not. 

With regard to all these fabulous delineations 
in the Edda, I will remark, moreover, as indeed 
was already hinted, that most probably they must 
have been of much newer date ; most probably, 
even from the first, were comparatively idle for 
the old Norsemen, and as it were a kind of 
Poetic sport. Allegory and Poetic Delineation, 

Zbc Ibero as H)ivinit^. 45 

as I said above, cannot be religious Faith ; the 
Faitli itself must first be there, then Allegory 
enough will gather round it, as the fit body round 
its soul. The Norse Faith, I can well suppose, 
like other Faiths, was most active while it lay 
mainly in the silent state, and had not yet much 
to say abqut itself, still less to sing. 

Among those shadowy Edda matters, amid all 
that fantastic congeries of assertions, and tradi- 
tions, in their musical Mythologies, the main 
practical belief a man could have was probably 
not much more than this : of the Valkyrs and 
the Hall of Odin ; of an inflexible Destifiy ; and 
that the one thing needful for a man was to be 
brave. The Valkyrs are Choosers of the Slain : 
a Destiny inexorable, which it is useless trying 
to bend or soften, has appointed who is to be 
slain ; this was a fundamental point for the 
Norse believer ; — as indeed it is for all earnest 
men everywhere, for a Mahomet, a Luther, for 
a Napoleon too. It lies at the basis this for 
every such man ; it is the woof out of which his 
whole system of thought is woven. The Valkyrs ; 
and then that these Choosers lead the brave to 
a heavenly Hall of Odi?t ; only the base and 
slavish being thrust elsewhither, into the realms 
of Hela the Death-goddess : I take this to have 
been the soul of the whole Norse Belief. They 
understood in their heart that it was indispen- 
sable to be brave ; that Odin would have no 
favor for them, but despise and thrust them out, 
if they were not brave. Consider too whether 
there is not something in this ! It is an everlast- 
ing duty, valid in our day as in that, the duty of 

46 Xectuccs on t)eroes. 

being brave. Valor is still value. The first dutjf 
for a man is still that of subduing Fear. We 
must get rid of Fear; we cannot act at all till 
then. A man's acts are slavish, not true but 
specious ,• his very thoughts are false, he thinks 
too as a slave and coward, till he have got Fear 
under his feet. Odin's creed, if we disentangle 
the real kernel of it, is true to this hour. A man 
shall and must be valiant ; he must march forward, 
and quit himself like a man, — trusting impertur- 
bably in the appointment and choice of the upper 
Powers ; and, on the whole, not fear at all. Now 
and always, the completeness of his victory over 
Fear will determine how much of a man he is. 

It is doubtless very savage, that kind of valor 
of the old Northmen. Snorro tells us they thought 
it a shame and misery not to die in battle ; and 
if natural death seemed to be coming on. they 
would cut wounds in their flesh, that Odin might 
receive them as warriors slain. Old kings, about' 
to die, had their body laid into a ship ; the ship 
sent forth, with sails set and slow fire burning it ; 
that, once out at sea, it might blaze up in flame, 
and in such manner bury worthily the old hero, 
at once in the sky and in the ocean ! Wild bloody 
valor ; yet valor of its kind ; better, I say, than 
none. In the old Sea-kings too, what an indom- 
itable rugged energy ! Silent, with closed lips, as 
I fancy them, unconscious that they were spe- 
cially brave ; defying the wild ocean with its mon- 
sters, and all men and things ; — progenitors of 
our own Blakes and Nelsons ! No Homer sang 
these Norse Sea-kings ; but Agamemnon's was a 
small audacitv, and of small fruit in the world, to 

Zbc l)ero as 5)ivinit\2. 

some of then. ; — to Hrolf's of Normandy, fcT 
stance ! Hrolf, or Rollo Duke of Ncyrmanu), 
wild Sea-king, has a share in governing England 
at this hour. 

Nor was it altogether nothing, even that wild 
sea-roving and battling, through so many genera- 
tions. It needed to be ascertained which was the 
strofigest kind of men ; who were to be ruler over 
whom. Among the Northland Sovereigns, too, I 
find some who got the title Wood-cutter ; Forest- 
felling Kings. Much lies in that. I suppose at 
bottom man}^ of them were forest-fellers as well 
as fighters, though the Skalds talk mainly of the 
latter, — misleading certain critics not a little , tor 
no nation of men could ever live by fighting aione ; 
there could not produce enough come out oi that ! 
I suppose the right good fighter was oftenest also 
the right good forest-feller, — the right good im- 
prover, discerner, doer and worker in every kind ; 
for true valor, different enough from ferocity, is 
the basis of all. A more legitimate kind of valor 
that : showing itself against the untamed Forests 
and dark brute Powers of Nature, to conquer 
Nature for us. In the same direction have not 
we their descendants since carried it iar ? May 
such valor last forever with us ! 

That the man Odin, speaking with a Hero's 
voice and heart, as with an impressiveness out of 
Heaven, told his People the infinite importance 
of Valor, how man thereby became a god ; and 
that his people, feeling a response to it in their 
own hearts, believed this message of his, and 
thought it a message out of Heaven, and him a 
Divinity for telling it them : this seems to me the 

Xectures on Iberoes. 

primary seed-grain of the Norse Religion, from 
which ail manner of mythologies, symbolic prac- 
tices, speculations, allegories, songs and sagas 
wouid naturally grow. Grow, — how strangely ! 
1 called it a small light shining and shaping in the 
huge vortex of Norse darkness. Yet the dark- 
ness itself was alive ; consider that. It was the 
eager inarticulate uninstructed Mind of the whole 
Norse People, longing only to become articulate, 
to go on articulating ever farther ! The living 
doctrine grows, grows ; — like a Banyan-tree ; the 
first j"*?-?^ is the essential thing : any branch strikes 
itself down into the earth, becomes a new root ; 
and so, in endless complexity, we have a whole 
wood, a whole jungle, one seed the parent of it all. 
Was not the whole Norse Religion, accordingly, 
in some sense, what we called ' the enormous 
shadow of this man's likeness ' ? Critics trace 
some affinity in some Norse mythuses, of the Cre- 
ation and such like, with those of the Hindoos. 
The Cow Adumbla, ' licking the rime from the 
rocks,' had a kind of Hindoo look. A Hindoo 
Cow, transported into frosty countries. Probably 
enough ; indeed we may say undoubtedly, these 
things will have a kindred with the remotest lands, 
with the earliest times. Thought does not die, 
but only is changed. The first man that began 
to think in this Planet of ours, he was the be- 
ginner of all. And then the second man, and 
the third man ; — nay, every true Thinker ta 
this hour is a kind of Odin, teaches men hh 
way of thought, spreads a shadow of his owiv 
likeness over sections of the History of th^ 

Zbe Ibero as Divinity* 49 

Of the distinctive poetic character or merit of 
this Norse Mythology I have not room to speak ; 
nor does it concern us much. Some wild Proph- 
ecies we have, as the Voluspa in the Elder 
Edda ; of a rapt, earnest, sibylline sort. But they 
were comparatively an idle adjunct of the matter, 
men who as it were but toyed with the matter, 
these later Skalds ; and it is their songs chiefly 
that survive. In later centuries, I suppose, they 
would go on singing, poetically symbolizing, as 
our modern Painters paint, when it was no longer 
from the innermost heart, or not from the heart at 
all. This is everywhere to be well kept in mind. 

Gray's fragments of Norse Lore, at any rate, 
will give one no notion of it ; — any more than 
Pope will of Homer. It is no square-built gloomy 
palace of black ashlar marble, shrouded in awe 
and horror, as Gray gives it us : no ; rough as the 
North rocks, as the Iceland deserts, it is ; with 
a heartiness, homeliness, even a tint of good- 
humor and robust mirth in the middle of these 
fearful things. The strong old Norse heart did 
not go upon theatrical sublimities ; they had not 
time to tremble. I like much their robust sim- 
plicity ; their veracity, directness of conception. 
Thor ' draws down his brows ' in a veritable Norse 
rage ; ' grasps his hammer till the knuckles grow 
white.^ Beautiful traits of pity too, an honest 
pity. Balder ' the white God ' dies ; the beautiful, 
benignant ; he is the Sungod. They try all Nature 
for a remedy ; but he is dead. Frigga, his mother, 
sends Hermoder to seek or see him : nine days 
and nine nights he rides through gloomy deep 
valleys, a labyrinth of gloom ; arrives at the 


Xectures on Iberoes. 

Bridge with its gold roof : the Keeper says, " Yes, 
Balder did pass here ; but the Kingdom of the 
Dead is down yonder, far towards the North.'* 
Hermoder rides on ; leaps Hell-gate, Hela's gate ; 
does see Balder, and speak with him : Balder 
cannot be delivered. Inexorable ! Hela will 
not, for Odin or any God, give him up. The 
beautiful and gentle has to remain there. His 
Wife had volunteered to go with him, to die with 
him. They shall forever remain there. He 
sends his ring to Odin ; Nanna his wife sends her 
thimble to Frigga, as a remembrance — Ah me !^ 
For indeed Valor is the fountain of Pity too;, 
. — of Truth, and all that is great and good in 
man. The robust homely vigor of the Norse 
heart attaches one much, in these delineations. 
Is it not a trait of right honest strength, says 
XJhland, who has written a fine Essay on Thor, 
that the old Norse heart finds its friend in the 
Thunder-god ? That it is not frightened away by 
his thunder ; but finds that Summer-heat, the 
beautiful noble summer, must and will have 
thunder withal ! The Norse heart loves this Thor 
and his hammer-bolt ; sports with him. Thor is 
Summer-heat ; the god of Peaceable Industry as 
well as Thunder. He is the Peasant's friend ; 
his true henchman and attendant is Thialfi, Ma7i- 
ual Labor, Thor himself engages in all manner 
of rough manual work, scorns no business for its 
plebeianism ; is ever and anon traveling to the 
country of the Jotuns, harrying those chaotic 
Frost-monsters, subduing them, at least straiten- 
ing and damaging them. There is a great broad 
humor in some of these things. 

Zbc Ibero as H)iviniti2. 51 

Thor, as we saw above, goes to Jotun-land, to 
seek Hymir's Caldron, that the Gods may brew 
beer. Hymir the huge Giant enters, his gray 
beard all full of hoar-frost ; splits pillars with the 
very glance of his eye ; Thor, after much rough 
tumult, snatches the Pot, claps it on his head ; 
the 'handles of it reach down to his heels.' The 
Norse Skald has a kind of loving sport with Thor. 
This is the Hymir whose cattle, the critics have 
discovered, are Icebergs. Huge untutored Brob- 
dignag genius, — needing only to be tamed-down ; 
into Shakspeares, Dantes, Goethes ! It is all 
gone now, that old Norse work, — Thor the Thun- 
der-god changed into Jack the Giant-killer : but 
the mind that made it is here yet. How strangely 
things grow, and die and do not die ! There are 
twigs of that great world-tree of Norse Belief still 
curiously traceable. This poor Jack of the Nurs- 
ery, with his miraculous shoes of swiftness, coat 
of darkness, sword of sharpness, he is one. Hynde 
Etin, and still more decisively Red Etin of Ireland, 
in the Scottish Ballads, these are both derived 
from Norseland ; Etin is evidently a jfotim. 
Nay, Shakspeare's Hamlet is a twig too of this 
same world-tree; there seems no doubt of that. 
Hamlet, Amleth, I find, is really a mythic per- 
sonage ; and his Tragedy, of the poisoned Father, 
poisoned asleep by drops in his ear, and the rest, 
is a Norse mythus ! Old Saxo, as his wont was, 
made it a Danish history -, Shakspeare, out of 
Saxo, made it what we see. That is a twig of the 
world-tree that has grown, I think ; — by nature or 
accident that one has grown ! 

In fact, these old Norse songs have a truth in 

52 Xectures on Ibcroes. 

them, an inward perennial truth and greatness,-^ 
as, indeed, all must have that can very long pre- 
serve itself by tradition alone. It is a greatness 
not of mere body and gigantic bulk, bqt a rude 
greatness of soul. There is a sublim^ uncom- 
plaining melancholy traceable in these old hearts. 
A great free glance into the very deeps of 
thought. They seem to have seen, these brave 
old Northmen, what Meditation has taught all 
men in all ages. That this world is after all but 
a show, — a phenomenon or appearance, no real 
thing. All deep souls see into that, — the Hindoo 
Mythologist, the German Philosopher, — the Shak- 
speare, the earnest Thinker, wherever he may 

' We are such stuff as Dreams are made of ! ' 

One of Thor's expeditions, to Utgard (the 
Outer Garden, central seat of Jotun-land), is 
remarkable in this respect. Thialfi was with 
him, and Loke. After various adventures, they 
entered upon Giant-land ; wandered over plains, 
wild uncultivated places, among stones and trees. 
At nightfall they noticed a house ; and as the 
door, which indeed formed one whole side of the 
house, was open, they entered. It was a simple 
habitation ; one large hall, altogether empty. 
They stayed there. Suddenly in the dead of the 
night loud noises alarmed them. Thor grasped 
his hammer ; stood in the door, prepared for 
fight. • His companions within ran hither and 
thither in their terror, seeking some outlet in 
that rude hall ; they found a little closet at last, 
and took refuge there. Neither had Thor any 

C^be 1bero as Dtvtniti2» 53 

battle : for, lo, in the morning it turned-out that 
the noise had been only the snoring of a certain 
enormous but peaceable Giant, the Giant Skrymir, 
Avho lay peaceably sleeping near by ; and this 
that they took for a house was merely his Glove^ 
thrown aside there ; the door was the Glove- 
wrist ; the little closet they had fled into was the 
Thumb ! Such a glove ; — I remark too that it 
had riot fingers as ours have, but only a thumb, 
and the rest undivided : a most ancient, rustic 
glove ! 

Skrymir now carried their portmanteau all day ; 
Thor, however, had his own suspicions, did not 
like the ways of Skrymir ; determined at night to 
put an end to him as he slept. Raising his ham- 
mer, he struck down into the Giant's face a right 
thunderbolt blow, of force to rend rocks. The 
Giant merely awoke ; rubbed his cheek, and said, 
Did a leaf fall ? Again Thor struck, so soon as 
Skrymir again slept ; a better blow than before ; 
but the Giant only murmured. Was that a grain 
of sand ? Thor's third stroke was with both his 
hands (the 'knuckles white' I suppose), and 
seemed to dint deep into Skrymir's visage ; but 
he merely checked his snore, and remarked. There 
must be sparrows roosting in this tree, I think ; 
what is that they have dropt ? — At the gate of 
Utgard, a place so high that you had to ' strain 
your neck bending back to see the top of it,' 
Skrymir went his ways. Thor and his com- 
panions were admitted ; invited to take share in 
the games going on. To Thor, for his part, they 
handed a Drinking-horn ; it was a common feat, 
they told him, to drink this dry at one draught 

54 Xecturcs on Iberoes. 

Long and fiercely, three times over, Thor drank v 
but made hardly any impression. He was a weak- 
child, they told him : could he lift that Cat he 
saw there ? Small as the feat seemed, Thor 
with his whole godlike strength could not ; he. 
bent-up the creature's back, could not raise its 
feet off the ground, could at the utmost raise one 
foot. Why, you are no man, said the Utgard 
people ; there is an Old Woman that will wrestle 
you. Thor, heartily ashamed, seized this haggard 
Old Woman ; but could not throw her. 

And now, on their quitting Utgard, the chief 
Jotun, escorting them politely a little way, said ta 
Thor : " You are beaten then : — yet be not so 
much ashamed ; there was deception of appear- 
ance in it. That Horn you tried to drink was the. 
Sea ; you did make it ebb ; but who could drink 
that, the bottomless ! The Cat you would have 
lifted, — why, that is the Midga?'d-sjiake, the Great 
World-serpent, which, tail in mouth, girds and 
keeps-up the whole created world ; had you torn 
that up, the world must have rushed to ruin ! As 
for the Old Woman, she was Time, Old Age, 
Duration : with her what can wrestle ? No man 
nor no god with her ; gods or men, she prevails 
over all ! And then those three strokes you 
struck, — look at these three valleys ; your three 
strokes made these ! " Thor looked at his attend- 
ant Jotun : it was Skrymir ; — it was, say Norse 
critics, the old chaotic rocky Earth in person, 
and that glove-house was some Earth-cavern ! 
But Skrymir had vanished ; Utgard with its sky- 
high gates, when Thor grasped his hammer to 
smite them, had gone to air ; only the Giant's 

voice was heard mocking : " Better come no more 
to Jdtunheim ! " — 

This is of the allegoric period, as we see, and 
half-play, not of the prophetic and entirely devout • 
but as a mythus is there not real antique Norse 
gold in it ? More true metal, rough from the 
Mimer-stithy, than in many a famed Greek My- 
thus shaped far better ! A great broad Brob- 
dignag grin of true humor is in this Skrymir ; 
mirth resting on earnestness and sadness, as the 
raiabow on black tempest : only a right valiant 
heart is capable of that. It is the grim humor 
of our own Ben Jonson, rare old Ben ; runs in the 
blood of us, I fancy ; for one catches tones of it, 
under a still other shape, out of the American 

That is also a very striking conception that 
of the Rag7iardk, Consummation, or Twilight of 
the Gods. It is in the Voluspa Song ; seemingly 
a very old, prophetic idea. The Gods and Jo- 
tuns, the divine Powers and the chaotic brute 
ones, after long contest and partial victory by the 
former, meet at last in universal world-embracing 
wrestle and duel ; World-serpent against Thor, 
strength against strength ; mutually extinctive ; 
and ruin, ' twilight,' sinking into darkness, swal- 
lows the created Universe. The old Universe 
with its Gods is sunk ; but it is not final death : 
there is to be a new Heaven and a new Earth ; 
a higher supreme God, and Justice to reign among 
men. Curious ; this law of mutation, which also 
is a law written in man's inmost thought, had been 
deciphered by these old earnest Thinkers in their 
rude style ; and how, though all dies, and even 

56 Xectures on l&erocs. 

gods die, yet all death is but a phoenix fire-death, 
and new-birth into the Greater and the Better I 
It is the fundamental Law of Being for a creature 
made of Time, living in this Place of Hope. All 
earnest men have seen into it ; may still see 
into it. 

And now, connected with this, let us glance at 
the /as^ mythus of the appearance of Thor ; and 
end there. I fancy it to be the latest in date of 
all these fables ; a sorrowing protest against the 
advance of Christianity, — set forth reproachfully 
by some Conservative Pagan. King Olaf has 
been harshly blamed for his over-zeal in intro- 
ducing Christianity ; surely I should have blamed 
him far more for an under-zeal in that ! He paid 
dear enough for it ; he died by the revolt of his 
Pagan people, in battle, in the year 1033, at Stick»^ 
elstad, near that Drontheim, where the chief 
Cathedral of the North has now stood for many 
centuries, dedicated gratefully to his memory as 
Samf Olaf. The mythus about Thor is to this 
effect. King Olaf, the Christian Reform King, 
is sailing with fit escort along the shore of Nor- 
wa}^, from haven to haven ; dispensing justice, or 
doing other royal work : on leaving a certain 
haven, it is found that a stranger, of grave eyes 
and aspect, red beard, of stately robust figure, 
has stept in. The courtiers address him ; his an- 
swers surprise by their pertinency and depth : at 
length he is brought to the King. The stranger's 
conversation here is not less remarkable, as they 
sail along the beautiful shore ; but after some 
time, he addresses King Olaf thus : " Yes, King 
Olaf, it is all beautiful, with the sun shining on 

XLbc 1bero as Bivlnitg. 57 

it there ; green, fruitful, a right fair home for 
you ; and many a sore day had Thor, many a wild 
fight with the rock Jotuns, before he could make 
it so. And now you seem minded to put away 
Thor. King Olaf, have a care ! " said the stran- 
ger, drawing-down his brows ; — and when they 
looked again, he was nowhere to be found. — This 
is the last appearance of Thor on the stage of 
this world ! 

Do we not see well enough how the Fable 
might arise, without unveracity on the part of 
any one ? It is the way most gods have come to 
appear among men : thus, if in Pindar's time 
* Neptune was seen once at the Nemean Games,' 
what was this Neptune too but a ' stranger of 
noble grave aspect,' — Jif to be 'seen'! There 
is something pathetic, tragic for me in this last 
voice of Paganism. Thor is vanished, the whole 
Norse world has vanished ; and will not return 
ever again. In like fashion to that pass away 
the highest things. All things that have been in 
this world, all things that are or will be in it, have 
to vanish : we have our sad farewell to give 

That Norse Religion, a rude but earnest, sternly 
impressive Consecration of Valor (so we may 
define it), sufficed for these old valiant North- 
men. Consecration of Valor is not a bad thing! 
We will take it for good, so far as it goes. Neither 
is there no use in kjiowing something about this 
old Paganism of our Fathers. Unconsciously, 
and combined with higher things, it is in us yet, 
that old Faith withal ! To know it consciously, 
brings us into closer and clearer relation with 

58 Xectures on Ibcroes. 

the Past, — with our own possessions in the Past 
For the whole Past, as I keep repeating, is the 
possession of the Present ; the Past had always 
something true^ and is a precious possession. In 
a different time, and in a different place, it is 
always some other side of our common Human 
Nature that has been developing itself. The 
actual True is the sum of all these ; not any one 
of them by itself constitutes what of Human 
Nature is hitherto developed. Better to know 
them all than misknow them. " To which of 
these Three Religions do you specially adhere 1 " 
inquires Meister of his Teacher. " To all the 
Three ! " answers the other : " To all the Three ; 
for they by their union first constitute the True 

Cbe "toero as ipropbet. 159 



From the first rude times of Paganism among 
the Scandinavians in the North, we advance to 
a very different epoch of religion, among a very 
different people : Mahometanism among the 
Arabs. A great change ; what a change and prog- 
ress is indicated here, in the universal condi- 
tion and thoughts of men ! 

The Hero is not now regarded as a God among 
his fellow-men ; but as one God-inspired, as a 
Prophet. It is the second phasis of Hero-wor- 
ship : the first or oldest, we may say, has passed 
away without return ; in the history of the world 
diere wlU not again be any man, never so great, 
3thoi)i Jhis fello-v-men will take for a god. Nay 
we might rati^^nally ask. Did any set of human 
beings ever really think the man they saw there 
standing beside them a god, the maker of this 
world ? Perhaps not : it was usually some man 
they remembered, or hads^an. But neither can 
this any more be. The Great Man is not recog- 
nized henceforth as a god any more. 

It was a rude gross error, that of counting the 
Great Man a god. Yet let us say that it is at all 

6o Xectures on fDctoce, 

times difficult to know w/iaf he is, or how to ae« 
count of him and receive him ! The most sig- 
nificant feature in the history of an epoch is the" 
manner it has of welcoming a Great Man. Ever, 
to the true instincts of men, there is something 
godlike in him. Whether they shall take him fo 
be a god, to be a prophet, or what they shall take 
him to be ? that is ever a grand question ; by 
their way of answering that, we shall see, as 
through a little window, into the very heart of 
these men's spiritual condition. For at bottom^ 
the Great Man, as he comes from the hand of 
Nature, is ever the same kind of thing : Odin, 
Luther, Johnson, Burns ; I hope to make it ap- 
pear that these are all originally of one stuff ; 
that only by the world's reception of them, and 
the shapes they assume, are they so immeasur- 
ably diverse. The worship of Odin astonishes 
us, — to fall prostrate before the Great Man, into 
deliquium of love and wonder over him, and feel 
in their hearts that he was a denizen of the skies, 
a god ! This was imperfect enough : but to wel- 
come, for example, a Burns as we did, was that 
what we can call perfect ? The Jnost pi'ecious 
gift that Heaven can give to the Earth ; a man 
of * genius ' as we call it ; the Soul of a Man act- 
ually sent down from the skies with a God's- 
message to us, — this we waste away as an idle 
artificial firework, sent to amuse us a little, and 
sink it into ashes, wreck and in effectuality : such 
reception of a Great Man I do not call very 
perfect either I Looking into the heart of the 
thing, one may perhaps call that of Burns a still 
uglier phenomenon, betokening still sadder im- 

^be Ibcro as ipropbet. 61 

perfections in mankind's wa3^s, than the Scandi- 
navian method itself ! To fall into mere unreason- 
ing deliquiiuji of love and admiration, was not 
good ; but such unreasoning, nay irrational super- 
cilious no-love at all is perhaps still worse ! — It 
is a thing forever changing, this of Hero-worship : 
different in each age, difficult to do well in any 
age. Indeed, the heart of the whole business of 
the age, one may say, is to do it well. 

We have chosen Mahomet not as the most 
eminent Prophet ; but as the one we are freest 
to speak of. He is by no means the truest of 
Prophets ; but I do esteem him a true one. 
Farther, as there is no danger of our becoming, 
any of us, Mahometans, I mean to say all the 
good of him I justly can. It is the way to get at 
his secret : let us try to understand what he 
meant with the world ; what the world meant and 
means with him, will then be a more answerable 
question. Our current hypothesis about Ma- 
homet, that he was a scheming impostor, a False- 
hood incarnate, that his religion is a mere mass 
of quackery and fatuity, begins really to be now 
untenable to any one. The lies, which well-mean- 
ing zeal has heaped round this man, are dis- 
graceful to ourselves only. When Pococke in- 
quired of Grotius, Where the proof was of that 
story of the pigeon, trained to pick peas from 
Mahomet's ear, and pass for an angel dictating 
to him ? Grotius answered that there was no 
proof ! It is really time to dismiss all that. The 
word this man spoke has been the life-guidance 
now of a hundred-and-eighty millions of men 
these twelve-hundred vears. These hundred-and- 

62 Xectures on Iberocs, 

eighty millions were made by God as well as we. 
A greater number of God's creatures believe in 
Mahomet's word at this hour than in any other 
word whatever. Are we to suppose that it was 
a miserable piece of spiritual legerdemain, this 
which so many creatures of the Almighty have 
liVed by and died by ? I, for my part, cannot 
form any such supposition. I will believe most 
things sooner than that. One would be entirely 
at a loss what to think of this world at all, ii 
quackery so grew and were sanctioned here. 

Alas, such theories are very lamentable. If we* 
would attain to knowledge of anything in God/s 
true Creation, let us disbelieve them wholly I* 
They are the product of an Age of Scepticism; 
they indicate the saddest spiritual paralysis, and 
mere death-life of the souls of men : more god- 
less theory, I think, was never promulgated in 
this Earth. A false man found a religion ? 
Why, a false man cannot build a brick house I 
If he do not know and follow fr7i/y the properties 
of mortar, burnt clay and what else he works in, 
it is no house that he makes, but a rubbish-heap. 
It will not stand for twelve centuries, to lodge a 
hundred-and-eighty millions ; it will fall straight- 
way. A man must conform himself to Nature's 
laws, l^e verily in communion with Nature and 
the truth of things, or Nature will answer himj 
No, not at all ! Speciosities are specious — ah, 
me ! — a Cagliostro, many Cagliostros, prominent 
world-leaders, do prosper by their quackery, for 
a day. It is like a forged bank-note ; they get it 
passed out of t/ieir worthless hands : others, not 
they, have to smart for it. Nature bursts-up in 

^be fbcxo as propbet. 63 

fire-flames, French Revolutions and such-like, 
proclaiming with terrible veracity that forged 
notes are forged. 

But of a Great Man especially, of him I will 
venture to assert that it is incredible he should 
have been other than true. It seems to me the 
primary foundation of him, and of all that can 
lie in him, this. No Mirabeau, Napoleon, Burns, 
Cromwell, no man adequate to do anything, but 
is first of all in right earnest about it ; what I call 
a sincere man. I should say sincerify, a deep, 
great, genuine sincerity, is the first characteristic 
of all men in any way heroic. Not the sincerity 
that calls itself sincere ; ah no, that is a very 
poor matter indeed ;— a shallow braggart con- 
scious sincerity ; oftenest self-conceit mainly. 
The Great Man's sincerity is of the kind he cannot 
speak of, is not conscious of : nay, I suppose, he 
is conscious rather of ///sincerity ; for what man 
can walk accurately by the law of truth for one 
■day ? No, the Great Man does not boast himseli 
sincere, far from that ; perhaps does not ask him- 
self if he is so : I would say rather, his sincerit5 
does not depend on himself; he cannot help 
being sincere ! The great Fact of Existence is 
great to him. Fly as he will, he cannot get out 
of the awful presence of this Reality. His mind 
is so made ; he is great by that, first of all. 
Fearful and wonderful, real as Life, real as Death, 
is this Universe to him. Though all men should 
forget its truth, and walk in a vain show, he can- 
not. At all moments the Flame-image glares-in 
upon him ; undeniable, there, there ! — I wish you 
to take this as my primary definition of a Great 

64 Xecture6 on Iberoes, 

Man. A little man may have this, it is compe- 
tent to all men that God has made : but a Gre^t. 
Man cannot be without it. 

Such a man is what we call an origincd man ; 
he conies to us at first-hand. A messenger he, 
sent from the Infinite Unknown with tidings^ to 
us. We may call him Poet, Prophet, God ; — hi 
one way or other, we all feel that the words he 
utters are as no other man's words. Direct from 
the Inner Fact of things ; — he lives, and has to 
live, in daily communion with that. Hearsays 
cannot hide it from him ; he is blind, homeless, 
miserable, following hearsays ; it glares-in upon 
him. Really his utterances, are they not a kind 
of ' revelation ; ' — what we must call such for 
want of some other name ? It is from the heart 
of the world that he comes, he is portion of the 
primal reality of things. God has made many 
revelations : but this man too, has not God made 
him, the latest and newest of all ? The ' inspira- 
tion of the Almighty giveth hhji understanding : ' 
we must listen before all to him. 

This Mahomet, then, we will in no wise con- 
sider as an Inanity and Theatricality, a poor con- 
scious ambitious schemer ; we cannot conceive 
him so. The rude message he delivered was a 
real one withal ; an earnest confused voice from 
the unknown Deep. The man's words were not 
false, nor his workings here below ; no Inanity 
and Simulacrum ; a fiery mass of Life cast-up 
from the great bosom of Nature herself. To 
kindle the world ; the world's Maker had ordered 
it so. Neither can the faults, imperfections, in- 
sincerities even, of Mahomet, if such were never 

Zbc tbcro as ipropbet. 65 

so well proved against him, shake this primary 
fact about him. 

On the whole, we make too much of faults j-the 
details of the business hide the real centre of it. 
Faults ? The greatest of faults, I should say, is 
to be conscious of none. Readers of the Bible 
above all, one would think, might know better. 
Who is called there ' the man according to God's 
9wn heart ' ? David, the Hebrew King, had fall- 
en into sins enough ; blackest crimes ; there was 
no want of sins. And thereupon the unbelievers 
sneer and ask, Is this your man according to 
God's heart ? The sneer, I must say, seems to 
me but a shallow one. What are faults, what are 
the outward details of a life ; if the inner secret of 
it, the remorse, temptations, true, often-baffled, 
never-ended struggle of it, be forgotten .-* ' It is 
not in man that walketh to direct his steps.' Of 
all acts, is' not, for a man, repentance the most 
divine ? The deadliest sin, I say, were that same 
supercilious consciousness of no sin ; — that is 
death ; the heart so conscious is divorced from 
sincerity, humility and fact ; is dead : it is ' pure' as 
dead dry sand is pure. David's life and history, 
as written for us in those Psalms of his, I consider 
to be the truest emblem ever given of a man's 
moral progress and warfare here below. All 
earnest souls will ever discern in it the faithful 
struggle of an earnest human soul towards what 
is good and best. Struggle often baffled, sore 
baffled, down as into entire wreck ; yet a struggle 
never ended, ever with tears, repentance, true 
unconquerable purpose, begun anew. Poor hu- 
man nature ! Is not a man's walking, in truth, 

66 Xectures on Iberoes. 

always that : * a succession of falls' ? !Man can do 
no other. In this wild element of a Life, he has to 
struggle onwards ; now fallen, deep-abased; and 
ever, with tears, repentance, with bleeding heart, 
he has to rise again, struggle again still onwards. 
That his struggle be a faithful unconquerable one : 
that is the question of questions. We will put-up 
with many sad details, if the soul of it were true. 
Details by themselves will never teach us what it 
is. I believe we misestimate Mahomet's faults, 
even as faults : but the secret of him will never 
be got by dwelling there. We will leave all this 
behind us ; and assuring ourselves that he did 
mean some true thing, ask candidly what it was 
or might be. 

These Arabs Mahomet was born among are 
certainly a notable people. Their country itself is 
notable ; the fit habitation for such a race. Savage 
inaccessible rock-mountains, great grim deserts, 
alternating with beautiful strips of verdure : wher- 
ever water is, there is greenness, beauty ; odorif- 
erous balm-shrubs, date-trees, frankincense-trees. 
Consider that wide waste horizon of sand, empty, 
silent, like a sand-sea, dividing habitable place 
from habitable. You are all alone there, left alone 
with the Universe ; by day a fierce sun blazing 
down on it with intolerable radiance ; by night 
the great deep Heaven with its stars. Such a 
country is fit for a swift-handed, deep-hearted race 
of men. There is something most agile, active, 
and yet most meditative, enthusiastic in the Arab 
character. The Persians are called the French 
of the East ; we will call the Arabs Oriental 

XLlK tbcto as Ipropbct. 67 

Italians. A gifted, noble people ; a people of wild 
strong feelings, and of iron restraint over these : 
the characteristic of noble-mindedness, of genius. 
The wild Bedouin welcomes the stranger to his 
tent, as one having right to all that is there ; were 
it his worst enemy, he will slay his foal to treat him, 
will serve him with sacred hospitality for three 
days, will set him fairly on his way ; — and then, 
by another law as sacred, kill him if he can. In 
words, too, as in action. They are not a lo- 
quacious people, taciturn rather ; but eloquent,, 
gifted when they do' speak. An earnest, truthful 
kind of men. They are, as we know, of Jewish 
kindred : but with that deadly terrible earnestness- 
of the Jews they seem to combine something grace- 
ful, brilliant, which is not Jewish. They had 
' Poetic contests ' among them before the time of 
Mahomet. Sale says, at Ocadh, in the South of 
Arabia, there were yearly fairs, and there, when the 
merchandising was done, Poets sang for prizes : — 
the wild people gathered to hear that. 

One Jewish quality these Arabs manifest ; the 
outcome of many or of all high qualities : what 
we may call religiosity. From of old they had 
been zealous worshippers, according to their light. 
They worshipped the stars, as Sabeans ; wor- 
shipped many natural objects, — recognized them 
as symbols, immediate manifestations, of the 
Maker of Nature. It was wrong ; and yet not 
wholly wrong. All God's works are still in a 
sense symbols of God. Do we not, as I urged, 
still account it a merit to recognize a certain in- 
exhaustible significance, ' poetic beauty ' as we 
name it, in all natural objects whatsoever? A 

68 Xectures on Iberoes. 

man is a poet, and honored, for doing that, and 
speaking or singing it, — a kind of diluted worship. 
They had many Prophets, these Arabs ; Teachers 
each to his tribe, each according to the Ught he 
had. But indeed, have we not from of old the 
noblest of proofs, still palpable to every one of us, 
of what devoutness and noblemindedness had 
dwelt in these rustic thoughtful peoples ? Biblical 
critics seem agreed that our own Boo^ of Job was 
written in that region of the world. I call that, 
apart from all theories about it, one of the grandest 
things ever written with pen: One feels, indeed, 
as if it were not Hebrew ; such a noble universal- 
ity, different from noble patriotism or sectarian- 
ism, reigns in it. A n.oble Book ; all men's Book ! 
It is our first, oldest statement of the never-end- 
ing Problem, — man's destiny, and God's ways 
with him here in this earth. And all in such free 
flowing outlines ; grand in its sincerity, in its sim- 
plicity ; in its epic melody, and repose of recon- 
cilement. There is the seeing eye, the mildly 
understanding heart. So ti-ue everyway ; true 
eyesight and vision for all things ; material things 
no less than spiritual : the Horse, — ' hast thou 
clothed his neck with tJumder / ' — he ' laughs at 
the shaking of the spear ! ' Such living likenesses 
were never since drawn. Sublime sorrow, sub- 
lime reconciliation ; oldest choral melody as of 
the heart of mankind ; — so soft, and great ; as the 
summer midnight, as the world with its seas and 
stars ! There is nothing written, I think, in the 
Bible or out of it, of equal literary merit. — 

To the idolatrous Arabs one of the most an- 
cient universal objects of worship was that Black 

Ebe Ibero ae k^uopbet. 69 

Stone, still kept in the building called Caabah at 
Mecca. Diodorus Siculus mentions this Caabah 
in a way no.t to be mistaken, as the oldest, most 
honored temple in his time ; that is, some half- 
century before our Era. Silvestre de Sacy says 
there is some likelihood that the Black Stone is 
an aerolite. In that case, some man might see it 
fall out of Heaven ! It stands now beside the 
Well Zemzem ; the Caabah is built over both. 
A Well is in all places a beautiful affecting object, 
gushing out like life from the hard earth ; — still 
more so in those hot dry countries, where it is 
the first condition of being. The Well Zemzem 
has its name from the bubbling sound of the 
waters, zein-zem ; they think it is the \^''ell which 
Hagar found with her little Ishmael in the wilder- 
ness : the aerolite and it have been sacred now,, 
and had a Caabah over them, for thousands of 
years. A curious object, that Caabah ! There 
it stands at this hour, in the black cloth-covering 
the Sultan sends it yearly ; ' twenty-seven cubits 
high ; ' with circuit, with double circuit of pillars^ 
with festoon-rows of lamps and quaint ornaments : 
the lamps wall be lighted again this night, — to 
glitter again under the stars. An authentic frag- 
ment of the oldest Past. It is the Keblah of all 
Moslem : from Delhi all onwards to Morocco, the 
eyes of innumerable praying men are turned to- 
wards //, five times, this day and all days : one 
of the notablest centres in the Habitation of ]\Ien. 
It had been from the sacredness attached to 
this Caabah Stone and Hagar's Well, from the 
pilgrimings of all tribes of Arabs thither, that 
Mecca took its rise as a Town. A great town 

70 Xectures on Deroes, 

once, though much decayed now. It has no 
natural advantage for a town ; stands in a sandy 
hollow amid bare barren hills, at a distance from 
the sea ; its provisions, its very bread, have to be 
imported. But so many pilgrims needed lodg- 
ings : and then all places of pilgrimage do, from 
the first, become places of trade. The first day 
pilgrims meet, merchants have also met : where 
men see themselves assembled for one object, 
they find that they can accomplish other objects 
which depend on meeting together. Mecca be- 
came the Fair of all Arabia. And thereby indeed 
the chief staple and warehouse of whatever Com- 
merce there was between the Indian and the 
Western countries, Syria, Egypt, even Italy. It 
had at one time a population of 100,000 : buyers, 
forwarders of those Eastern and Western prod- 
ucts ; importers for their own behoof of provi- 
sions and corn. The government was a kind of 
irregular aristocratic republic, not without a touch 
of theocracy. Ten Men of a chief tribe, chosen 
in some rough way, were Governors of Mecca, 
-and Keepers of the Caabah. The Koreish were 
the chief tribe in Mahomet's time ; his own family 
was of that tribe. The rest of the Nation, frac- 
tioned and cut-asunder by deserts, lived under 
similar rude patriarchal governments by one or 
several : herdsmen, carriers, traders, generally 
robbers too ; being oftenest at war one with an- 
other, or with all : held together by no open bond, 
if it were not this meeting at the Caabah, where 
all forms of Arab Idolatry assembled in common 
adoration ; — held mainly by the inward indissol- 
uble bond of a common blood and language. In. 

Zbc Ibcro a6 propbct. 71 

this way had the Arabs lived for long ages, unno- 
ticed by the world ; a people of great qualities, un- 
consciously waiting for the day when they should 
become notable to all the world. Their Idolatries 
appear to have been in a tottering state ; much was 
getting into confusion and fermentation among 
them. Obscure tidings of the most important 
Event ever transacted in this world, the Life and 
Death of the Divine Man in Judea, at once the 
symptom and cause of immeasurable change to 
all people in the world, had in the course of 
centuries reached into Arabia too ; and could not 
but, of itself, have produced fermentation there. 

It was among this Arab people, so circum- 
stanced, in the year 570 of our Era, that the man 
Mahomet was born. He was of the family of 
Hashem, of the Koreish tribe as we said ; 
though poor, connected with the chief persons of 
his country. Almost at his birth he lost his 
Father ; at the age of six years his Mother too^ 
a woman noted for her beauty, her worth and 
sense : he fell to the charge of his Grandfather, 
an old man, a hundred years old. A good old 
man : Mahomet's Father, Abdallah, had been his 
youngest favorite son. He saw in Mahomet 
with his old life-worn eyes, a century old, the 
lost Abdallah come back again, all that was left 
of Abdallah. He loved the little orphan Boy 
greatly ; used to say, They must take care of that 
beautiful little Boy, nothing in their kindred was 
more precious than he. At his death, while the 
boy was still but two years old, he left him in 
charge to Abu Thaleb the eldest of the Uncles^ 
as to him that now was head of the house. By 

72 ^Lectures on Iberoes. 

this Uncle, a just and rational man as everything 
betokens, Mahomet was brought-up in the best 
Arab way. 

Mahomet, as he grew up, accompanied his 
Uncle on trading journeys and suchlike ; in his 
eighteenth year one finds him a fighter following 
his Uncle in war. But perhaps the most signifi- 
cant of all his journeys is one we find noted as 
of some years' earlier date : a journey to the 
Fairs of Syria. The young man here first came 
in contact with a quite foreign world, — ^with one 
foreign element of endless moment to him : 
the Christian Religion. I know not what to 
make of that ' Sergius, the Nestorian Monk.' 
whom Abu Thaleb and he are said to have 
lodged with ; or how much any monk could have 
taught one still so young. Probably enough it is 
greatly exaggerated, this of the Nestorian Monk. 
Mahomet was only fourteen ; had no language 
but his own : much in Syria must have been a 
strange unintelligible whirlpool to him. But the 
eyes of the lad were open ; glimpses of many 
things would doubtless be taken-in, and lie very 
enigmatic as yet, which were to ripen in a strange 
way into views, into beliefs and insights one 
day. These journeys to Syria were probably the 
beginning of much to Mahomet. 

One other circumstance we must not forget : 
that he had no school-learning ; of the thing we 
call school-learning, none at all. The art of 
writing was but just introduced into Arabia ; it 
seems to be the true opinion that Mahomet never 
could write ! Life in the Desert, with its expe- 
riences, was all his education. What of this 

Zbc Ibcxo as ipvopbct. 73 

infinite Universe he, from liis dim place, with his 
own eyes and thoughts, could take in, so much 
and no more of it was he to know. Curious, if 
we will reflect on it, this of having no books. 
Except by what he could see for himself, or hear 
of by uncertain rumor of speech in the obscure 
Arabian Desert, he could know nothing. The 
wisdom that had been before him or at a distance 
from him in the world, was in a manner as good 
as not there for him. Of the great brother souls, 
fiame-beacons through so many lands and times, 
no one directly communicates with this great 
soul. He is alone there, deep down in the 
bosom of the Wilderness ; has to grow up so, — 
alone with Nature and his own Thoughts. 

But, from an early age, he had been remarked 
as a thoughtful man. His companions named 
him '^ Al Ainin^ The Faithful." A man of truth 
and fidelity ; true in what he did, in what he 
spake and thought. They noted that he always 
meant something. A man rather taciturn in 
speech ; silent wdien there was nothing to be 
said; but pertinent, wise, sincere, when he did 
speak ; always throwing light on the matter. 
This is the only sort of speech worth speaking ! 
Through life we find him to have been regarded 
as an altogether solid, brotherly, genuine man. 
A serious, sincere character ; yet amiable, cordial, 
companionable, jocose even ; — a good laugh in him 
withal : there are men whose laugh is as untrue as 
anything about them ; who cannot laugh. One 
hears of Mahomet's beauty : his fine sagacious 
honest face, brown florid complexion, beaming 
black eyes ; — I somehow like too that vein on the 

y4 Xectures on Tocxoce. 

brow, which swelled-up black when he was in 
anger : Uke the ' horse-shoe vein ' in Scott's Red- 
gauntlet. It was a kind of feature in the Hashem 
family, this black swelling vein in the brow; 
Mahomet had it prominent, as would appear. A 
spontaneous, passionate, yet just, true-meaning 
man ! Full of wild faculty, fire and light ; of wild 
worth, all uncultured ; working out his life-task 
in the depths of the Desert there. 

How he was placed with Kadijah, a rich 
Widow, as her Steward, and travelled in her 
business, again to the Fairs of Syria ; how he 
managed all, as one can well understand, with 
fidelity, adroitness ; how her gratitude, her regard 
for him grew : the story of their marriage is alto- 
gether a graceful intelligible one, as told us by 
the Arab authors. He was twenty-five ; she forty, 
though still beautiful. He seems to have lived 
in a most affectionate, peaceable, wholesome way 
with this wedded benefactress ; loving her truly, 
and her alone. It goes greatly against the 
impostor theory, the fact that he lived in this 
entirely unexceptionable, entirely quiet and com- 
monplace way, till the heat of his years was done. 
He was forty before he talked of any mission 
from Heaven. All his irregularities, real and 
supposed, date from after his fiftieth year, when 
the good Kadijah died. All his 'ambition,* 
seemingly, had been, hitherto, to live an honest 
life ; his ' fame,' the mere good opinion of neigh- 
bors that knew him, had been sufficient hitherto. 
Not till he was already getting old, the prurient 
heat of his life all burnt out, and peace growing 
to be the chief thing this world could give him, 

CTbc 1bero as iprcpbet. 75 

did he start on the * career of ambition ; ' and, be- 
lying all his past character and existence, set-up 
as a wretched empty charlatan to acquire what he 
could now no longer enjoy ! For my share, I 
have no faith whatever in that. 

Ah, no : this deep-hearted Son of the Wilder- 
ness, with his beaming black eyes and open social 
deep soul, had other thoughts in him than ambi- 
tion. A silent great soul ; he was one of those 
who cannot hut be in earnest ; whom Nature her- 
self has appointed to be sincere. While others 
Walk in formulas and hearsays, contented enough 
to dwell there, this man could not screen himself 
in formulas ; he was alone with his own soul and 
the reality of things. The great Mystery of 
Existence, as I said, glared-in upon him, with its 
terrors, with its splendors ; no hearsays could 
hide that unspeakable fact, " Here am I ! " Such 
sincerity, as we named it, has in very truth 
something of divine. The word of such a man is 
a Voice direct from Nature's own Heart. Men 
do and must listen to that as to nothing else ; — 
all else is wind in comparison. From of old, a 
thousand thoughts, in his pilgrimings and wan- 
derings, had been in this man : What am I ? 
What is this unfathomable Thing I live in, which 
men name Universe ? What is Life ; what is 
Death ? What am I to believe ? What am I to 
do ? The grim rocks of Mount Hara, of Mount 
Sinai, the stern sandy solitudes answered not. 
The great Heaven rolling silent overhead, wdth 
its blue-glancino^ stars answered not. There was 
no answer. The man's own soui, and what of 
God's inspiration dwelt there, had to answer ! 

76 Xectures on tberoes. 

It is the thing which all men have to ask theift 
selves ; which we too have to ask, and answer. 
This wild man felt it to be of infinite vaox^^xit ; aU 
other things of no moment whatever in compar- 
ison. The jargon of argumentative Greek Sects, 
vague traditions of Jews, the stupid routine of 
Arab Idolatry : there was no answer in these. 
A Hero, as I repeat, has this first distinction, 
which indeed we may call first and last, the Alpha 
and Omega of his whole Heroism, That he looks 
through the shows of things into things. Use and 
wont, respectable hearsay, respectable formula : 
all these are good, or are not good. There is 
something behind and beyond all these, which all 
these must correspond with, be the image of, or 
they are — Idolatries ; ' bits of black wood pre- 
tending to be God ; ' to the earnest soul a mockery 
and abomination. Idolatries never so gilded, 
waited on by heads of the Koreish, will do noth- 
ing for this man. Though all men walk by them, 
what good is it ? The great Reality stands glar- 
ing there upon him. He there has to answer it, 
or perish miserably. Now, even now, or else 
through all Eternity never ! Answer it ; thou 
must find an answer. — Ambition 1 What could 
all Arabia do for this man ; with the crown of 
Greek Heraclius, of Persian Chosroes, and all 
crowns in the Earth ; — what could they all do for 
him ? It was not of the Earth he wanted to hear 
tell ; it was of the Heaven above and of the Hell 
beneath. All crowns and sovereignties whatso- 
ever, where would they in a few brief years be ? 
To be Sheik of Mecca or Arabia, and have a bit 
of gilt wood put into your hand, — will that be 

Zbc Ibero as propbct. 77 

one's salvation ? I decidedly think, not. We 
will leave it altogether, this impostor hypothesis, 
as not credible ; not very tolerable even, worthy 
chiefly of dismissal by us. 

Mahomet had been wont to retire yearly, 
during the month Ramadhan, into solitude and 
silence ; as indeed was the Arab custom ; a 
praiseworthy custom, which such a man, above 
all, WQuld find natural and useful. Communing 
with bis own heart, in the silence of the mount- 
ains ; himself silent ; open to the ' small still 
voices : ' it was a right natural custom ! Ma- 
homet was in his fortieth year, when having with- 
drawn to a cavern in Mount Hara, near Mecca, 
during this Ramadhan, to pass the month in. 
prayer, and meditation on those great questions, 
he one day told his wife Kadijah, who with 
his household was with him or near him this 
year, That by the unspeakable special favor of 
Heaven he had now found it all out ; was in doubt 
and darkness no longer, but saw it all. That 
all these Idols and Formulas were nothing, miser- 
able bits of wood ; that there was One God in 
and over all ; and we must leave all Idols, and 
look to Him. That God is great ; and that 
there is nothing else great ! He is the Reality. 
Wooden Idols are not real ; He is real. He 
made us at first, sustains us yet ; we and all things 
are but the shadow of Him ; a transitory garment 
veiling the Eternal Splendor. ^ Allah akbar^ 
God 4s great ; ' — and then also * Islain^' That we 
must submit to God. That our whole strength 
lies in resigned submission to Him, whatsoever 
He do to us. For this world, and for the other I 

78 Xectures on l^crocj. 

The thing He sends to us, were it death and 
worse than death, shall be good, shall be best; 
we resign ourselves to God — 'If this be Islam* 
says Goethe, ' do we not all live in Jslaifi / ' Yes, 
all of us that have any moral life ; we all live so. 
It has ever been held the highest wisdom for a 
man not merely to submit to Necessity,— :-Necessity 
will make him submit, — but to know a,nd believe 
well that the stern thing wdiich Necessity^ had 
ordered was the wisest, the best, the thing wanted 
there. To cease his frantic pretension of scan- 
ning this great God's World in his small fraction 
of a brain ; to know that it had verily, though 
deep beyond his soundings, a Just Law, that the 
soul of it was Good ; — that his part in it was to 
conform to the Law of the Whole, and in devout 
silence follow that ; not questioning it, obeying 
it as unquestionable. 

I say, this is yet the only true morality known, 
A man is right and invincible, virtuous and on 
the road towards sure conquest, precisely while 
he joins himself to the great deep Law of the 
World, in spite of all superficial laws, temporary 
appearances, profit-and-loss calculations ; he is 
victorious v.'hile he cooperates with that great 
central Law, not victorious otherwise : — and surely 
his first chance of cooperating with it, or getting 
into the course of it, is to know with his whole soul 
that it is ; that it is good, and alone good ! This 
is the soul of Islam ; it is properly the soul of 
Christianity ; — for Islam is definable as a confused 
form of Christianity ; had Christianity not been, 
neither had it been. Christianity also commands 
us, before all, to be resigned to God. We are to 

CTbe 1bcro a^ ipropDct. 79 

take no counsel with flesh-and-blood ; give ear 
to no vain cavils, vain sorrows and wishes : to 
know that we know nothing ; that the worst and 
crudest to our eyes is not what it seems ; that we 
have to receive whatsoever befalls us as sent 
from God above, and say. It is good and wise, 
God is great ! " Though He slay me, yet will I 
trust in Him." Islam means in its way Denial 
of Self, Annihilation of Self. This is yet the 
highest Wisdom that Heaven has revealed to our 

Such light had come, as it could, to illuminate 
the darkness of this wild Arab soul. ,V con- 
fused dazzling splendor as of life and Heaven, 
in the great darkness which threatened to be 
death : he called it revelation and the angel 
Gabrie ; — who of us yet can know what to call 
it ? It is the ' inspiration of the Almighty ' that 
giveth us understanding. To know ; to get into 
the truth of anything, is ever a mystic act, — of 
which the best Logics can but babble on the 
surface. ' Is not Belief the true god-announcing 
Miracle?' says Novalis. — That Mahomet's whole 
soul, set in flame with this grand Truth vouch- 
safed him, should feel as if it were important 
and the only important thing, was very natural. 
That Providence had unspeakably honored him 
by revealing it, saving him from death and dark- 
ness ; that he therefore was bound to make 
known the same to all creatures : this is what 
was meant by ' Mahomet is the Prophet of God ; ' 
this too is not without its true meaning. — 

The good Kadijah, we can fancy, listened to 
him with wonder, with doubt : at length she an- 

8o Xectures on Iberoes. 

swered : Yes, it was /r?/^ this that he said. One 
can fancy too the boundless gratitude of Ma- 
homet ; and how of all the kindnesses she had 
done him, this of believing the earnest struggling 
word he now spoke was the greatest. ' It is cer- 
tain,' says Novalis, 'my Conviction gains infi- 
nitely, the moment another soul will believe in it.' 
It is a boundless favor. — He never forgot this 
good Kadi j ah. Long afterwards, Ayesha his 
young favorite wife, a woman who indeed distin- 
guished herself among the Moslem, by all man- 
ner of qualities, through her whole long life ; this 
young brilliant Ayesha was, one day, questioning 
him : " Now am not I better than Kadijah } She 
was a widow ; old, and had lost her looks : you 
love me better than you did her ? " — " No, by 
Allah ! " answered Mahomet ; " No, by Allah ! 
She believed in me when none else would be- 
lieve. In the whole world I had but one friend, 
and she was that ! " — Seid, his Slave, also be- 
lieved in him ; these with his young Cousin Ali, 
Abu Thaleb's son, were his first converts. 

He spoke of his Doctrine to this man and 
that ; but the most treated it with ridicule, with 
indifference ; in three years, I think, he had 
gained but thirteen followers. His progress was 
slow enough. His encouragement to go on, was 
altogether the usual encouragement that such a 
man in such a case meets. After some three 
years of small success, he invited forty of his 
chief kindred to an entertainment ; and there 
stood-up and told them what his pretension was : 
that he had this thing to promulgate abroad to 
all men ; that it was the highest thing, the one 

^be Ibero as ipropbet, 8i 

thing : which of them would second him in that ? 
Amid the doubt and silence of all, young AH, as 
yet a lad of sixteen, impatient of the silence, 
started-up, and exclaimed in passionate fierce 
language. That he would ! The assembly, among 
whom was Abu Thaleb, All's Father, could not be 
unfriendly to Mahomet ; yet the sight there, of 
one unlettered elderly man, with a lad of sixteen, 
deciding on such an enterprise, against all man- 
kind, appeared ridiculous to them ; the assembly 
broke-up in laughter. Nevertheless it proved 
not a laughable thing ; it was a very serious 
thing ! As for this young Ali, one cannot but 
like him. A- noble-minded creature, as he shows 
himself, now and always afterwards ; full of af- 
fection, of fiery daring. Something chivalrous in 
him ; brave as a lion ; yet with a grace, a truth 
and affection worthy of Christian knighthood. 
He died by assassination in the Mosque at Bag- 
dad ; a death occasioned by his own generous 
fairness, confidence in the fairness of others : he 
said. If the wound proved not unto death, they 
must pardon the Assassin ; but if it did, then 
they must slay him straightway, that so they two 
in the same hour might appear before God, and 
see which side of that quarrel was the just one ! 

Mahomet naturally gave offence to the Koreish, 
Keepers of the Caabah, superintendents of the 
idols. One or two men of influence had joined 
him : the thing spread slowly, but it was spread- 
ing. Naturally he gave offence to everybody : 
Who is this that pretends to be wiser than we 
all ; that rebukes us all, as mere fools and wor- 
shippers of wood 1 Abu Thaleb the good Uncle 

Sz Xecturee on Iberocs. 

spoke with him : Could he not be silent about 
all that ; believe it all for himself, and not trou- 
ble others, anger the chief men, endanger him- 
self and them all, talking of it ? Mahomet an- 
swered : If the Sun stood on his right hand and 
the Moon on his left, ordering him to hold his 
peace, he could not obey ! No : there was some- 
thing in this Truth he had got which was of 
Nature herself; equal iij rank to Sun, or Moon, 
or whatsoever thing Nature had made. It would 
speak itself there, so long as the Almighty al- 
lowed it, in spite of Sun and Moon, and all 
Koreish and all men and things. It must do 
that, and could do no other. Mahomet answered 
bO ; and, they say, ' burst into tears.' Burst into 
tears : he felt that Abu Thaleb was good to him ; 
that the task he had got was no soft, but a stern 
and great one. 

He went on speaking to who would listen to 
him ; publishing his doctrine among the pilgrims 
as they came to Mecca ; gaining adherents in 
this place and that. Continual contradiction, 
hatred, open or secret danger attended him. 
His powerful relations protected Mahomet him- 
self; but by and by, on his own advice, all 
his adherents had to quit Mecca, and seek refuge 
in Abyssinia over the sea. The Koreish grew 
ever angrier ; laid plots/ and swore oaths among 
them, to put Mahomet to death with their own 
hands. Abu Thaleb was dead, the good Kadijah 
was dead. Mahomet is not solicitous of sym- 
pathy from us ; but his outlook at this time was 
one of the dismalest. He had to hide in caverns, 
escape in disguise ; fly hither and thither ; home* 

^be Ibero as propbet. 83 

less, in continual peril of his life. More than 
once it seemed all over with him •, more than 
onc£ it turned on a straw, some rider's horse 
taking fright or the like, whether Mahomet and 
his Doctrine had not ended there, and not been 
heard of at all. But it was not to end so. 

In the thirteenth year of his mission, finding 
hif) enemies all banded against him, forty sworn 
men, one out of every tribe, waiting to take his 
life, and no continuance possible at Mecca for 
him any longer, Mahomet fled to the place then 
called Yathreb, where he had gained some 
adherents ; the place they now call Medina or 
*Medi?iat al Nabi, the City of the Prophet,' from 
that circumstance. It lay some 200 miles off, 
through rocks and deserts ; not without great 
difliculty, in such mood as we may fancy, he 
escaped thither, and found welcome. The whole 
East dates its era from this Flight, Hegira as 
they name it : the Year i of this Hegira is 622 
of our Era, the fifty-third of Mahomet's life. He 
was now becoming an old man ; his friends sink- 
ing round him one by one ; his path desolate, 
•encompassed with danger : unless he could find 
hope in his own heart, the outward face of things 
Avas but hopeless for him. It is so with all men 
in the like case. Hitherto INIahomet had pro- 
fessed to publish his Religion by the way of 
preaching and persuasion alone. But now, 
driven foully out of his native country, since 
unjust men had not only given no ear to his ear- 
nest Heaven's-message, the deep cry of his heart, 
but would not even let him live if he kept speak- 
ing it, — the wild Son of the Desert resolved to 

84 Xectures on Iberoes. 

defend himself, like a man and Arab. If the 
Koreish will have it so, they shall have it. Tid- 
ings, felt to be of infinite moment to them and 
all men, they would not listen to these ; would 
trample them down by sheer violence, steel and 
murder : well, let steel try it then ! Ten years 
more this Mahomet had ; all of fighting, of 
breathless impetuous toil and struggle ; with 
what result we know. 

Much has -been said of Mahomet's propagat-^ 
ing his Religion by the sword. It is no doubt 
far nobler what we have' to boast of the Christ- 
ian religion, that it propagated itself peaceably 
in the way of preaching and conviction. Yet 
withal, if we take this for an argument of the 
truth or falsehood of a religion, there is a radical 
mistake in it. The sword indeed : but where 
will you get your sword ! Every new opinion, at 
its starting, is precisely in a minority of one. In 
one man's head alone, there it dwells as yet. 
One man alone of the whole world believes it ; 
there is one man against all men. That he take 
a sword, and try to propagate with that, will do 
little for him. You must first get your sword \ 
On the whole, a thing will propagate itself as it 
can. We do not find, of the Christian Religion 
either, that it always disdained the sword, when 
once it had got one. Charlemagne's conversion 
of the Saxons was not by preaching. I care 
little about the sword : I will allow a thing to 
struggle for itself in this world, with any sword 
or tongue or implement it has, or can lay hold of. 
We will let it preach, and pamphleteer, and fight, 
and to the uttermost bestir itself, and do, beak 

^be Ibcro as ipropbet. 85 

and claws, whatsoever is in it ; very sure that it 
will, in the long-run, conquer nothing which does 
not deserve to be conquered. What is better 
than itself, it cannot put away, but only what is 
worse. In this great Duel, Nature herself is 
umpire, and can do no wrong : the thing which is 
deepest-rooted in Nature, what we call truest^ 
that thing and not the other will be found grow- 
ing at last. 

' Here however, in reference to much that there 
is in ]\Iahomet and his success, we are to rem^n- 
ber what an umpire Nature is ; what a greatness, 
composure of depth and tolerance there is in her. 
You take wheat to cast into the Earth's bosom : 
your wheat may be mixed with chaff, chopped 
straw, barn-sweepings, dust and all imaginable 
rubbish ; no matter : you cast it into the kind 
just Earth ; she grows the wheat, — the whole 
rubbish she silently absorbs, shrouds // in, says 
nothing of the rubbish. The yellow wheat is 
growing there ; the good Earth is silent about all 
the rest — has silently turned all the rest to some 
benefit too, and makes no complaint about it ! So 
everywhere in Nature ! She is true and not a lie ; 
and yet so great, and just, and motherly in her 
truth. She requires of a thing only that it be 
genuine of heart ; she will protect it if so ; will 
not if not so. There is a soul of truth in all the 
things she ever gave harbor to. Alas, is not 
this the history of all highest Truth that comes 
or ever came into the world ? The body of them 
all is imperfection, an element of light iji dark- 
ness : to us they have to come embodied in mere 
Logic, in some merely scie?iiific Theorem of the 

86 Xectures on Iberoes* 

Universe ; which cannot be complete ; which can- 
not but be found, one day, /V^complete ; erronC' 
ous, and so die and disappear. The body of all 
Truth dies ; and yet in all, I say, there is a soul 
which never dies ; which in new and ever-nobler 
embodiment lives immortal as man himself ! It 
is the way with Nature. The genuine essence 
of Truth never dies. That it be genuine, a voice 
from the great Deep of Nature, there is the point 
at Nature's judgment-seat. What we call pure 
or impure, is not with her the final question. 
Not how much chaff is in you ; but whether you 
have any wheat. Pure t I might say to many a 
man : Yes, you are pure ; pure enough ; but you are 
chaff, — insincere hypothesis, hearsay, formality; 
you never were in contact with the great heart of 
the Universe at all ; you are properly neither pure 
nor impure ; you are nothing, Nature has no busi- 
ness with you. 

Mahomet's Creed we called a kind of Christ- 
ianity ; and really, if we look at the wild rapt 
earnestness with which it was believed and laid 
to heart, I should say a better kind than that of 
those miserable Syrian Sects, with their vain 
janglings about Hoinoioiision and Homoousion, 
the head full of worthless noise, the heart empty 
and dead ! The truth of it is embedded in por- 
tentous error and falsehood : but the truth of it 
makes it be believed, not the falsehood : it suc- 
ceeded by its truth. A bastard kind of Christ- 
ianity, but a living kind ; with a heart-life in it ; 
not dead, chopping barren logic merely ! Out 
of all that rubbish of Arab idolatries, argumenta- 
tive theologies, traditions, subtleties, rumors and 

Ziyc 1bcro as ipropbet. 87 

hypotheses of Greeks and Jews, with their idle 
wiredrawings, this wild man of the Desert, with 
his wild sincere heart, earnest as death and life, 
with his great flashing natural eyesight, had seen 
into the kernel of the matter. Idolatry is noth- 
ing : these Wooden Idols of yours, ' ye rub them 
with oil and wax, and the flies stick on them,' — 
these are wood, I tell you ! They can do nothing 
for you ; they are an impotent blasphemous pre- 
tence ; a horror and abomination, if ye knew them. 
God alone is ; God alone has power ; He made 
us, He can kill us and keep us alive : ''Allah 
akha7% God is great.' Understand that His will 
is the best for you ; that howsoever sore to flesh- 
and-blood, you will find it the wisest, best : you 
are bound to take it so ; in this world and in the 
next, you have no other thing that you can do ! 

And now if the wild idolatrous men did believe 
this, and with their fiery hearts lay hold of it, to do 
it, in what form soever it came to them, I say it was 
well worthy of being believed. In one form or the 
other, I say it is still the one thing worthy of being 
believed by all men. Man does hereby become 
the high-priest of this Temple of a World. He is 
in harmony with the Decrees of the Author of this 
World ; cooperating with them, not vainly with- 
standing them : I know, to this day, no better 
definition of Duty than that same. All that is 
right includes itself in this of cooperating with 
the real Tendency of the World : you succeed 
by this (the World's Tendency will succeed), you 
are good, and in the right course there. Homoi' 
oiision, Homooiision, vain logical jangle, then or 
before or at any time, may jangle itself out, and 

88- Xectures on Iberoes. 

go whither and how it Hkes : this is the thing 
it all struggles to mean, if it would mean any- 
thing. If it do not succeed in meaning this, it 
means nothing. Not that Abstractions, logical 
Propositions, be correctly worded or incorrectly ; 
but that living concrete Sons of Adam do lay this 
to heart : that is the important point. Islam 
devoured all these vain jangling Sects ; and ,1 
think had right to do so. It was a Reality,, 
direct from the great Heart of Nature once more. 
Arab idolatries, Syrian formulas, whatsoever wa^ 
not equally real, had to go up in flame, — mere dead 
fuel^ in various senses, for this which \N2iSji?:e. 

It was during these wild warfarings and strug- 
glings, especially after the Flight to Mecca, that 
Mahomet dictated at intervals his Sacred Book, 
which they name Koran, or Reading, ' Thing to be 
read.' This is the Work he and his disciples 
made so much of, asking all the world. Is not 
that a miracle ? The Mahometans regard their 
Koran with a reverence which few Christians pay 
even to their Bible. It is admitted everywhere 
as the standard of all law and all practice ; the 
thing to be gone-upon in speculation and life : 
the message sent direct out of Heaven, which 
this Earth has to conform to, and walk by ; the 
thing to be read. Their Judges decide by it : all 
Moslem are bound to study it, seek in it for the 
light of their life. They have mosques where it 
is all read daily ; thirty relays of priests take it 
up in succession, get through the whole each day. 
There, for twelve-hundre4 years, has the voice of 
this Book, at all moments, kept sounding through 

tTbe Ibcro as propbct, 89 

the ears and the hearts of so many men. We 
hear of Mahometan Doctors that had read it 
seventy-thousand times ! 

Very curious : if one sought for ' discrepancies 
of national taste,' here surely were the most emi- 
nent instance of that ! We also can read the 
Koran ; our Translation of it, by Sale, is known 
to be a very fair one. I must say, it is as toil- 
some reading as I ever undertook. A wearisome 
confused jumble, crude, incondite ; endless iter- 
ations, long-windedness, entanglement ; most 
crude, incondite ; — insupportable stupidity, in 
short t Nothing but a sense of duty could carry 
any European through the Koran. We read in 
it, as we might in the State-paper Office, unread- 
able masses of lumber, that perhaps we may get 
some glimpses of a remarkable man. It is true 
we have it under disadvantages : the Arabs see 
more method in it than we. Mahomet's followers 
found the Koran lying all in fractions, as it had 
been written-down at first promulgation ; much of 
it, they say, on shoulder-blades of mutton, flung 
pellmell into a chest : and they published it, with- 
out any discoverable order as to time or other- 
wise ; — merely trying, as would seem, and this not 
very strictly, to put the longest chapters first. 
The real beginning of it, in that way, lies almost 
at the end : for the earliest portions were the 
shortest. Read in its historical sequence it per- 
haps would not be so bad. Much of it, too, they 
say, is rhythmic ; a kind of wild chanting song, 
in the original. This may be a great point ; much 
perhaps has been lost in the Translation here. 
Yet with every allowance, one feels it difficult to 


^Lectures on fbcxocs. 

see how any mortal ever could cohsider this Koran 
as a Book written in Heaven, too good for the 
Earth ; as a well-written book, or indeed as a dook 
at all ; and not a bewildered rhapsody ; written^ 
so far as writing goes, as badly as almost any 
book ever was ! So much for national discrep- 
ancies, and the standard of taste. 

Yet I should say, it was not unintelligible how 
the Arabs might so love it. When onc6 you get 
this confused coil of a Koran fairly off your 
hands, and have it behind you at a distance, the 
essential type of it begins to disclose itself ; and 
in this there is a merit quite other than the liter- 
ary one. If a book come from the heart, it will 
contrive to reach other hearts ; all art and author-"^ 
craft are of small amount to that. One would 
say the primary character of the Koran is this of 
its ge?iuine?iess^ of its being a bona-fide book. 
Prideaux, I know, and others have represented it 
as a mere bundle of juggleries ; chapter after 
chapter got-up to excuse and varnish the 
author's successive sins, forward his ambitions 
and quackeries : but really it is time to dismiss 
all that. I do not assert Mahomet's continual 
sincerity : who is continually sincere ? But I 
confess I can make nothing of the critic, in these 
times, who would accuse him of diQ.Q,€\\. prepeiise; 
of conscious deceit generally, or perhaps at all ; 
— still more, of living in a mere element of con- 
scious deceit, and writing this Koran as a forger 
and juggler would have done ! Every candid eye, 
I think, will read the Koran far otherwise than 
so. It is the confused ferment of a great rude 
human soul ; rude, untutored, that cannot even 

Zbc Ibero as prop bet. 9. 

read, but fervent, earnest, struggling vehemently 
to utter itself in words. With a kind of breath- 
less intensity he strives to utter himself ; the 
thoughts crowd on him pellmell : for very multi- 
tude of things to say, he can get nothing said. 
The meaning that is in him shapes itself into no 
form of composition, is stated in no sequence, 
method, or coherence ; — they are not shaped at 
all, these thoughts of his ; flung-out unshaped, as 
they struggle and tumble there, in their chaotic 
inarticulate state. We said ' stupW : ' yet natural 
stupidity is by no means the character of Ma- 
homet's Book ; it is natural uncultivation rather. 
The man has not studied speaking ; in the haste 
and pressure of continual fighting, has not time 
to mature himself into lit speech. The panting 
breathless haste and vehemence of a man strug- 
gling in the thick of battle for life and salvation ; 
this is the mood he is in ! A headlong haste ; 
for very magnitude of meaning, he cannot get 
himself articulated into words. The successive 
utterances of a soul in that mood, colored by the 
various vicissitudes of three-and-twenty years ; 
now well uttered, now worse : this is the Koran. 
For we are to consider Mahomet, through these 
three-and-twenty years, as the centre of a world 
wholly in conflict. Battles with the Kornish and 
Heathen, quarrels among his own people, back- 
slidings of his own wild heart ; all this kept him 
in a perpetual whirl, his soul knowing rest no more. 
In wakeful nights, as one may fancy, the wild soul 
of the man, tossing amid these vortices, would 
hail any light of a decision for them as a veritable 
light from Heaven ,• any making-up of his mind. 

92 Xecturcs on Iberoes, 

so blessed, indispensable for him there, would 
seem the inspiration of a Gabriel. Forger and 
juggler ? No, no ! This great fiery heart, seeth- 
ing, simmering like a great furnace of thoughts, 
was not a juggler's. His life was a Fact to him ; 
this God's Universe an awful Fact and Reality. 
He has faults enough. The man was an uncul-; 
tured semi-barbarous Son of Nature, much of 
the Bedouin still clinging to him : we must take 
him for that. But for a wretched Simulacrum, a 
hungry Impostor without eyes or heart, practising 
for a mess of pottage such blasphemous swindlery, 
forgery of celestial documents, continual high-trea- 
son against his Maker and Self, we will not and 
cannot take him. 

Sincerity, in all senses, seems to me the merit 
of the Koran ; what had rendered it precious to 
the wild Arab men. It is, after ail, the first and 
last merit in a book ; gives rise to merits of all 
kinds, — nay, at bottom, it alone can give rise to 
merit of any kind. Curiously, through these incon- 
dite masses of tradition, vituperation, complaint, 
ejaculation in the Koran, a vein of true direct in- 
sight, of what we might almost call poetry, is found 
straggling. The body of the Book is made-up of 
mere tradition, and as it were vehement enthusi- 
astic extempore preaching. He returns forever to 
the old stories of the Prophets as they went current 
in the Arab memory : how Prophet after Prophet, 
the Prophet Abraham, the Prophet Hud, the 
Prophet Moses, Christian and other real and 
fabulous Prophets, had come to this Tribe and to 
that, warning men of their sin ; and been received 
by them even as he Mahomet was, — which is a 

Zbc 1bero as propbet. 93 

great solace to him. These things he repeats ten, 
perhaps twenty times ; again and ever again, with 
w^earisome iteration ; has never done repeating 
them. A brave Samuel Johnson, in his forlorn 
garret, might con over the Biographies of Authors 
in that way ! This is the great staple of the Koran. 
But curiously, through all this, comes ever and 
anon some glance as of the real thinker and seer. 
He has actually an eye for the w^orld, this Ma- 
homet : with a certain directness and rugged vigor, 
he brings home still, to our heart, the thing his 
own heart has been opened to. I make but little 
of his praises of Allah, which many praise ; they 
are borrow^ed I suppose mainly from the Hebrew, 
at least they are far surpassed there. But the eye 
that flashes direct into the heart of things, and 
sees the truth of them ; this is to me a highly 
interesting object. Great Nature's own gift ; 
which she bestows on all ; but w^hich only one 
in the thousand does not cast sorrowfully away : 
it is what I call sincerity of vision ; the test of a 
sincere heart. 

Mahomet can work no miracles ; he often 
answers impatiently ; I can work no miracles. I ? 

* I am a Public Preacher ; ' appointed to preach 
this doctrine to all creatures. Yet the world, as 
we can see, had really from of old been all one 
great miracle to him. Look over the world, says 
he ; is it not wonderful, the work of Allah ; wholly 

* a sign to you,' if your eyes were open ! This 
Earth, God made it for you ; ' appointed paths in 
it ; ' you can live in it, go to and fro on it. — The 
clouds in the dry country of Arabia, to Mahomet 
they are very wonderful : Great clouds, he says, 


Xectures on Ibcroes, 

born in the deep bosom of the Upper Immensity, 
where do they come from ! They hang there, the 
great black monsters ; pour down their rain-del- 
uges ' to revive a dead earth,' and grass springs, 
and ' tall leafy palm-trees with their date-clusters 
hanging round. Is not that a sign?' Your 
cattle too, — Allah made them ; serviceable dumb 
creatures ; they change the grass into milk; you 
have your clothing from them, very strange crea- 
tures ; they come ranking home at evening-time,. 
* and,' adds he, ' and are a credit to you ! ' Ships 
also, — he talks often about ships : Huge moving 
mountains, they spread-out their cloth wings, go 
bounding through the water there, Hekven's wind 
driving them ; anon they lie motionless, God has 
withdrawn the wind, they lie dead, and cannot 
stir ! Miracles ? cries he : What miracle would 
you have ? Are not you yourselves there ? God 
made you, ' shaped you out of a little clay.' Ye 
were small once ; a few years ago ye were not at all: 
Ye have beauty, strength, thoughts, ' ye have com- 
passion on one another.' Old age comes-on you^ 
and gray hairs ; your strength fades into feeble- 
ness ; ye sink down, and again are not. ' Ye 
have compassion on one another ; ' this struck 
me much : Allah might have made you having 
fio compassion on one another, — how had it been 
then ! ^his is a great direct thought, a glance at 
first-hand into the very fact of things. Rude ves- 
tiges of poetic genius, of whatsoever is best and 
truest, are visible in this man. A strong un- 
tutored intellect ; eyesight, heart : a strong -wild 
man, — might have shaped himself into Poet, King^ 
Priest, any kind of Hero. 

XLbc fbcvo as ipropbct. 95 

To his eyes it is forever clear that this world 
wholly is miraculous. He sees what, as we said 
once before, all great thinkers, the rude Scandi- 
navians themselves, in one way or other, have 
contrived to see : That this so solid-looking 
material world is, at bottom, in very deed. 
Nothing ; is a visual and tactual Manifestation of 
God's power and presence, — a shadow hung-out by 
Him on the bosom of the void Infinite; nothing 
more. The mountains, he says, these great 
rock-mountains, they shall dissipate themselves 
* like clouds ; ' melt into the Blue as clouds do, 
and not be ! He figures the Earth, in the Arab 
fashion. Sale tells us, as an immense Plain or 
flat Plate of ground, the mountains are set on 
that to steady it. At the Last Day they shall 
disappear ' like clouds ; ' the whole Earth shall 
go spinning, whirl itself off into wreck, and as 
dust and vapor vanish in the Inane. Allah 
withdraws his hand from it, and it ceases to be. 
The universal empire of Allah, presence every- 
where of an unspeakable Power, a Splendor, 
and a Terror not to be named, as the true force, 
■essence and reality, in all things whatsoever, was 
continually clear to this man. What a modern 
talks of by the name. Forces of Nature, Laws of 
Nature ; and does not figure as a divine things 
not even as one thing at all, but as a set ©f things, 
undivine enough, — saleable, curious, good for pro- 
pelling steamships ! With our Sciences and Cyclo- 
psedias, we are apt to forget the divmeness, in those 
laboratories of ours. We ought not to forget 
it ! That once well forgotten, I know not what 
else were worth remembering. Most sciences, I 

96 ^Lectures on 1beroc6. 

think, were then a very dead thing ; withered, 
contentious, empty, — a thistle in late autumn. 
The best science, without this, is but as the dead 
timber ; it is not the growing tree and forest, — ■ 
which gives ever-new timber, among other things ! 
Man cannot kiiow either, unless he can worship 
in some way. His knowledge is a pedantry, 
and dead thistle, otherwise. 

Much has been said and written about the 
sensuality of Mahomet's Religion ; more than 
was just. The indulgences, criminal to us, which 
he permitted, were not of his appointment; he 
found them practised, unquestioned from imme- 
morial time in Arabia ; what he did was to curtail 
them, restrict them, not on one but on many 
sides. His Religion is not an easy one : with 
rigorous fasts, lavations, strict complex formulas, 
prayers five times a day, and abstinence from 
wine, it did not ' succeed by being an easy re- 
ligion.' As if indeed any religion, or cause-hold- 
ing of religion, could succeed by that ! It is a 
calumny on men to say that they are roused to 
heroic action by ease, hope of pleasure, recom- 
pense, — sugar-plums of any kind, in this world or 
the next ! In the meanest mortal there lies 
something nobler. The poor swearing soldier, 
hired to be shot, has his ' honor of a soldier,' 
different from drill-regulations and the shilling a 
day. It is not to taste sweet things, but to do 
noble and true things, and vindicate himself 
under God's Heaven as a god-made Man, that 
the poorest son of Adam dimly longs. Show him 
the way of doing that, the dullest daydrudge 
kindles into a hero. They wrong man greatly 

^be 1bero as propbct, 97 

who say he is to be seduced by ease. Difficulty, 
abnegation, martyrdom, death are the allurcmefits 
that act on the heart of man. Kindle the mner 
genial life of him, you have a flame that bui'ns-up 
all lower considerations. Not happiness, but 
something higher : one sees this even in the 
frivolous classes, with their ' point of honor ' and 
the like. Not by flattering our appetites ; no, by 
awakening the Heroic that slumbers in every 
heart, can any Religion gain followers. 

Mahomet himself, after all that can be said about 
him, was not a sensual man. We shall err widely 
if we consider this man as a common voluptuary, 
intent mainly on base enjoyments, — nay on enjoy- 
ments of any kind. His household was of the fru- 
galest ; his common diet barley-bread and water: 
sometimes for months there was not a fire once 
lighted on his hearth. They record with just pride 
that he would mend his own shoes, patch his own 
cloak. A poor, hard-toiling, ill-provided man ; 
careless of what vulgar men toil for. Not a bad 
man, I should say ; something better in him than 
hunger of any sort, — or these wild Arab men, fight- 
ing and jostling three-and-twenty years at his 
hand, in close contact with him always, would not 
have reverenced him so ! They were wild men, 
bursting ever and anon into quarrel, into all kinds 
of fierce sincerity ; without right worth and man- 
hood, no man could have commanded them. 
They called him Prophet, you say .'' Why, he stood 
there face to face with them ; bare, not enshrined 
in any mystery ; visibly clouting his own cloak, 
cobbling his own shoes ; fighting, counselling, 
ordering in the midst of them : they must have 

98 Lectures on Iberoes. 

seen what kind of a man he was, let him be called: 
what you like ! No emperor with his tiaras was 
obeyed as this man in a cloak of his own clout- 
ing. During three-and-twenty years of rough 
actual trial. I find something of a veritable 
Hero necessary for that, of itself. 

His last words are a prayer ; broken ejacula- 
tions of a heart struggling-up, in trembling hope, 
towards its Maker. We cannot say that his re- 
ligion made him worse; it made him better ; good, 
not bad. Generous things are recorded of him : 
when he lost his Daughter, the thing he answers 
is, in his own dialect, everyway sincere, and yet 
equivalent to that of Christians, ' The Lord 
giveth, and the Lord taketh away ; blessed be 
the name of the Lord.' He answered in like 
manner of Seid, his emancipated well-beloved 
Slave, the second of the believers. Seid had 
iallen in the War of Tabuc, the first of Mahomet's 
fightings with the Greeks. Mahomet said. It was 
well ; Seid had done his Master's work, Seid had 
now gone to his Master : it was all well with Seid. 
Yet Seid's daughter found him weeping over the 
body ; — the old gray-haired man melting in tears ! 
" What do I see ? " said she. — " You see a friend 
weeping over his friend." — He went out for the 
last time into the mosque, two days before his 
death ; asked, If he had injured any man ? Let his 
own back bear the stripes. If he owed any man } 
A voice answered, " Yes, me three drachms," 
borrowed on such an occasion. Mahomet or- 
dered them to be paid : " Better be in shame 
now," said he, " than at the Day of Judgment." — ■ 
You remember Kadijah, and the " No, by Allah ! '*: 

Heroes i 


^be 1bcro as propbet. 99 

Traits of that kind show us the genuine man, the 
brother of us all, brought visible through twelve 
centuries, — the veritable Son of our common 

Withal I like Mahomet for his total freedom 
from cant. He is a rough self-helping son of the 
wilderness ; does not pretend to be what he is not. 
There is no ostentatious pride in him ; but neither 
does he go much upon humility : he is there as he 
can be, in cloak and shoes of his own clouting-, 
speaks plainly to all manner of Persian Kings, 
Greek Emperors, what it is they are bound to do ; 
knows well enough, about himself, ' the respect 
due unto thee.' In a life-and-death war with Bed- 
ouins, cruel things could not fail ; but neither 
are acts of mercy, of noble natural pity and gen- 
erosity wanting. Mahomet makes no apology 
for the one, no boast of the other. They were 
each the free dictate of his heart ; each called-for, 
there and then. Not a mealy-mouthed man ! A 
candid ferocity, if the case call for it, is in him ; 
he does not mince matters ! The War of Tabuc 
is a thing he often speaks of : his men refused, 
many of them, to march on that occasion ; pleaded 
the heat of the weather, the harvest, and so forth ; 
he can never forget that. Your harvest ? It lasts 
for a day. What will become of your harvest 
through all Eternity .? Hot weather ? Yes, it 
was hot ; ' but Hell will be hotter ! ' Sometimes 
a rough sarcasm turns-up : He says to the .un- 
believers. Ye shall have the just measure of your 
deeds at that Great Day. They will be weighed- 
out to you ; ye shall not have short weight ! — 
Everywhere he fixes the matter in his eye ; he sees 

1 00 Xectures on Iberoes. 

it : his heart, now and then, is as if struck dumb 
by the greatness of it. ' Assuredly,' he says : 
that word, in the Koran, is written-down some- 
times as a sentence by itself: ' Assuredly.' 

No Dilettafitism in this Mahomet ; it is a busi- 
ness of Reprobation and Salvation with him, of 
Time and Eternity : he is in deadly earnest about 
it ! Dilettantism, hypothesis, speculation, a kind 
of amateur-search for Truth, toying and coquet- 
ting with Truth : this is the sorest sin. The root 
of all other imaginable sins. It consists in the 
heart and soul of the man never having been open 
to Truth ; — ' living in a vain show.' Such a man 
not only utters and produces falsehoods, but is 
himself a falsehood. The rational moral prin- 
ciple, spark of the Divinity, is sunk deep in him, 
in quiet paralysis of life-death. The very false- 
hoods of Mahomet are truer than the truths of 
such a man. He is the insincere man : smooth- 
polished, respectable in some times and places ; 
inoffensive, says nothing harsh to anybody ; m'ost 
^Ieanh\ — just as carbonic acid is, which is death 
and poison. 

We will not praise Mahomet's moral precepts 
as always of the superfinest sort ; yet it can be 
said that there is always a tendency to good in 
them ; that they are the true dictates of a heart 
aiming towards what is just and true. The sub- 
lime forgiveness of Christianity, turning of the 
other cheek when the one has been smitten, is 
not here : you are to revenge yourself, but it is to 
be in measure, not overmuch, or beyond justice. 
On the other hand, Islam, like any great Faith, 
and insight into the essence of man, is a perfect 

^be 1bero as iPropbeU loi 

equalizer of men : the soul of one believer out- 
weighs all earthly kingships ; all men, according 
to Islam too, are equal. Mahomet insists not on 
the propriety of giving alms, but on the necessity 
of it : he marks-down by law how much you are 
to give, and it is at your peril if you neglect. 
The tenth part of a man's annual income, what- 
ever that may be, is the property of the poor, of 
those that are afflicted and need help. Good all 
this : the natural voice of humanity, of pity and 
equity dwelling in the heart of this wild Son of 
Nature speaks so. 

Mahomet's Paradise is sensual, his Hell sen- 
sual : true ; in the one and the other there is 
enough that shocks all spiritual feeling in us. 
But we are to recollect that the Arabs already 
had it so ; that Mahomet, in whatever he changed 
of it, softened and diminished all this. The worst 
sensualities, too, are the work of doctors, follow- 
ers of his, not his work. In the Koran there is 
really very little said about the joys of Paradise ; 
they are intimated rather than insisted on. Nor 
is it forgotten that the highest joys even there shall 
be spiritual : the pure Presence of the Highest, 
this shall infinitely transcend all other joys. He 
says, * Your salutation shall be, Peace.' Sala7n, 
Have Peace ! — the thing that all rational souls 
long for, and seek, vainly here below, as the one 
blessing. ' Ye shall sit on seats, facing one 
* another : all grudges shall be taken away out of 
*your hearts.' All grudges ! Ye shall love one 
another freely ; for each of you, in the eyes of 
his brothers, there will be Heaven enough ! 

In reference to this of the sensual Paradise and 

102 lectures on focvocs. 

Mahomet's sensuality, the sorest chapter of all 
for us, there were many things to be said ; which 
it is not convenient to enter upon here. Two 
remarks only I shall make, and therewith leave 
it to your candor. The first is furnished me by 
Goethe; it is a casual hint of his which seems 
well worth taking note of. In one of his Deline^- 
ations, in Meistcf' s Travels it is, the hero comes- 
upon a Society of men with very strange ways, 
one of which was this : " We require," says the 
Master, " that each of our people shall restrict 
himself in one direction," shall go right against 
his desire in one matter, and make himself do the 
thing he does not wish, " should we allow him the 
greater latitude on all other sides." There seems 
to me a great justness in this. Enjoying things 
which are pleasant ; that is not the evil : it is the 
reducing of our moral self to slavery by them 
that is. Let a man assert withal that he is king 
■over his habitudes ; that he could and would 
shake them off, on cause shown : this is an 
excellent law. The Month Ramadhan for the 
Moslem, much in Mahomet's Religion, much in 
his own Life, bears in that direction ; if not by 
forethought, or clear purpose of moral improve- 
ment on his part, then by a certain healthy man- 
ful instinct, which is as good. 

But there is another thing to be said about the 
Mahometan Heaven and Hell. This namely, 
that, however gross and material they may be, 
they are an emblem of an everlasting truth, not 
always so well remembered elsewhere. That 
gross sensual Paradise of his ; that horrible flam- 
ing Hell ; the great enormous Day of Judgment i 

^be 1bero as ipropbet, 103; 

he perpetually insists on : what is all this but a 
rude shadow, in the rude Bedouin imagination, of 
that grand spiritual Fact, and Beginning of Facts, 
which it is ill for us too if we do not all know and 
feel : the Infinite Nature of Duty ? That man's 
actions here are of iiifi?iite moment to him, and 
never die or end at all ; that man, with his little 
life, reaches upwards high as Heaven, downwards 
low as Hell, and in his threescore years of Time 
holds an Eternity fearfully and wonderfully hid- 
den : all this had burnt itself, as in flame charac- 
ters, into the wild Arab soul. As in flame and 
lightning, it stands written there ; awful, unspeak- 
able, ever present to him. With bursting earnest- 
ness, with a fierce savage sincerity, halt, articulat- 
ing, not able to articulate, he strives to speak it^ 
bodies it forth in that Heaven and that Hell. 
Bodied forth in what way you will, it is the first of 
all truths. It is venerable under all embodiments. 
What is the chief end of man here below .'' Ma- 
homet has answered this question, in a way that 
might put some of its to shame ! He does noty 
like a Bentham, a Paley, take Right and Wrong, 
and calculate the profit and loss, ultimate pleas- 
ure of the one and of the other ; and summing; 
all up by addition and subtraction into a net result, 
ask you, \Miether on the whole the Right does 
not preponderate considerably "i No ; it is not 
better to do the one than the other ; the one is to 
the other as life is to death, — as Heaven is to- 
Hell. The one must in nowise be done, the 
other in nowise left undone. You shall not meas- 
ure them ; they are incommensurable : the one 
is death eternal to a man, the other is life eternal. 

104 Xectures on Iberocs. 

Benthamee Utility, virtue by Profit and Loss; 
reducing this God's-world to a dead brute Steam- 
engine, the infinite celestial Soul of Man to a 
kind of Hay-balance for weighing hay and thistles 
on, pleasures and pains on : — If you ask me 
which gives, Mahomet or they, the beggarlier and 
falser view of Man and his Destinies in this 

Universe, I will answer, it is not Mahomet ! 

On the whole, we will repeat that this Religion 
of Mahomet's is a kind of Christianity ;. has a 
genuine element of what is spiritually highest look- 
ing through it, not to be hidden by all its imperfec- 
tions. The Scandinavian God JVis/i, the god of 
all rude men, — this has been enlarged into a 
Heaven by Mahomet ; but a Heaven symbolical 
of sacred Duty, and to be earned by faith and 
well-doing, by valiant action, and a divine pa- 
tience which is still more valiant. It is Scandi- 
navian Paganism, and a truly celestial elemen'" 
superadded to that. Call it not false ; look not 
at the falsehood of it, look at the truth of it. For 
these twelve centuries, it has been the religion 
and life-guidance of the fifth part of the whole 
kindred of Mankind. Above all things, it has 
been a religion heartily believed. These Arabs 
believe their religion, and try to live by it ! No 
Christians, since the early ages, or only perhaps 
the English Puritans in modern times, have ever 
stood by their Faith as the Moslem do by theirs, 
— believing it wholly, fronting Time with it, and 
Eternity with it. This night the watchman on 
the streets of Cairo when he cries, "Who goes "i " 
will hear from the passenger, along with his 
answer, "There is no God but God." Allah 

Zbc 1bero as ipropbct. 105 

akhar^ Is/am, sounds through the souls, and 
whole daily existence, of these dusky millions. 
Zealous missionaries preach it abroad among 
Malays, black Papuans, brutal Idolaters; — dis- 
placing what is worse, nothing that is better or 

To the Arab Nation it was as a birth from 
darkness into light; Arabia first became alive 
by means of it. A poor shepherd people, roam- 
ing unnoticed in its desert since the creation of 
the world : a Hero-Prophet was sent down to 
them with a word they could believe : see, the 
unnoticed becomes world- notable, the small has 
grown world-great ; within one century after- 
wards, Arabia is at Grenada on this hand, at 
Delhi on that ; — glancing in valor and splendor 
and the light of genius, Arabia shines through long 
ages over a great section of the world. Belief is 
great, live-giving. The history of a Nation be- 
comes fruitful, soul-elevating, great, so soon as it 
believes. These Arabs, the man Mahomet, and 
that one century, — is it not as if a spark had 
fallen, one spark, on a world of what seemed 
black unnoticeable sand ; but lo, the sand proves 
explosive powder, blazes heaven-high from Delhi 
to Grenada ! I said, the Great Man was always 
as lightning out of Heaven ; the rest of men 
waited for him like fuel, and then they too would 

io6 Xcctures on Iberocs. 



The Hero as Divinity, the Hero as Prophet, are 
productions of old ages ; not to be repeated in 
the new. They presupposo a certain rudeness 
of conception, which the progress of mere 
scientific knowledge puts an end to. There 
needs to be, as it were, a world vacant, or almost 
vacant of scientific forms, if men in their loving 
wonder are to fancy their fellow-man either a god 
or one speaking with the voice of a god. Divin- 
ity and Prophet are past. We are now to see our 
Hero in the less ambitious, but also less question- 
able, character of Poet ; a character which does 
not pass. The Poet is a heroic figure belonging 
to all ages ; whom all ages possess, when once he 
is produced, whom the newest age as the oldest 
may produce ; — and will produce, always when 
Nature pleases. Let Nature send a Hero-soul ; 
in no age is it other than possible that he may be 
shaped into a Poet. 

Hero, Prophet, Poet, — many different names, 
in different times and places, do we give to Great 
Men ; according to varieties we note in them, 
according to the sphere in which they have dis« 

Cbe 1bero as ipoet, 107 

played themselves ! We might give many more 
names, on this same principle. I will remark 
again, however, as a fact not unimportant to be 
understood, that the different sphere constitutes 
the grand origin of such distinction ; that the 
Hero can be Poet, Prophet, King, Priest, or what 
you will, according to the kind of world he finds 
himself born into. I confess, I have no notion of 
a truly great man that could not be all sorts of 
men. The Poet who could merely sit on a chair, 
and compose stanzas, would never make a stanza 
worth much. He could not sing the Heroic war- 
rior, unless he himself were at least a Heroic war- 
rior too. I fancy there is in him the Politician, the 
Thinker, Legislator, Philosopher ; — in one or the 
other degree, he could have been, he is all these. 
So too I cannot understand how a Mirabeau, with 
that great glowing heart, with the fire that was 
in it, with the bursting tears that were in it, could 
not have written verses, tragedies, poems and 
touched all hearts in that way, had his course of 
life and education led him thitherward. The 
grand fundamental character is that of Great 
Man ; that the man be great. Napoleon has 
words in him which are like Austerlij:z Battles. 
Louis Fourteenth's Marshals are • a kind of 
poetical men withal ; the things Turenne sa3^s are 
full of sagacity and geniality, like sayings of 
Samuel Johnson. The great heart, tfie clear deep- 
seeing eye : there it lies ; no man whatever, in what 
province soever, can prosper at all without these. 
Petrarch and Boccaccio did diplomatic messages, 
it seems, quite well : one can easily believe it :. 
they had done things a little harder than these I 

io8 Xecturcs on Iberoes, 

Burns, a gifted song- writer, might have made a still 
better Mirabeau. Sliakspeare, — one knows not 
what he could not have made, in the supreme 

True, there are aptitudes of nature too. Nature 
does not make all great men, more than all other 
men, in the self-same mould. Varieties of apti- 
tude doubtless ; but infinitely more of circum- 
stance ; and far oftenest it is the latter only that 
are looked to. But it is as with common men in 
the learning of trades. You take any man, as 
yet a vague capabiUty of a man, who could be 
any kind of craftsman ; and make him into a 
smith, a carpenter, a mason : he is then and 
thenceforth that and nothing else. And if, as 
Addison complains, you sometimes see a street- 
porter staggering under his load on spindleshanks, 
and near at hand a tailor with the frame of a 
Samson handling a bit of cloth and small White- 
chapel needle, — it cannot be considered that 
aptitude of Nature alone has been consulted here 
either ! — The Great Man also, to what shall he 
be bound apprentice ? Given your Hero, is he 
to become Conqueror, King, Philosopher, Poet ? 
It is an inexplicably complex controversial-calcula- 
tion between the world and him ! He will read 
the world and its laws ; the world with its laws 
will be there to be read. What the world, on this 
matter, shall permit and bid is, as we said, the 
most important fact about the world. — 

Poet and Prophet differ greatly in our loose 
modern notions of them. In some old languages, 
again, the titles are synonymcus ; Vates means 

^I3C 1bero as ipoet. log 

both Prophet and Poet : and indeed at all times, 
Prophet and Poet, well understood, have much 
kindred of meaning. Fundamentally indeed they 
are still the same ; m this most important respect 
especially. That they have penetrated both of 
them into the sacred mystery of the Universe ; 
what Goethe calls ' the open secret.' " Which 
is the great secret ? " asks one. — " The opeii 
secret," — open to all, seen by almost none ! That 
divine mystery, which lies everywhere in all Be- 
ings, ' the Divine Idea of the World, that which 
' lies at the bottom of Appearance,' as Fichte 
styles it ; of which all Appearance, from the starry 
sky to the grass of the field, but especially the 
Appearance of Man and his work, is but the 
vesture, the embodiment that renders it visible. 
This divine mystery is in all times and in all 
places ; veritably is. In most times and places it 
is greatly overlooked ; and the Universe, defin- 
able always in one or the other dialect, as the 
realized Thought of God, is considered a trivial, 
inert, commonplace matter, — as if, says the Sat- 
irist, it were a dead thing, which some upholsterer 
had put together ! It could do no good, at pres- 
ent, to speak much about this ; but it is a pity for 
evej-y one of us if we do not know it, live ever in 
the knowledge of it. Really a most mournful pity ^ 
— a failure to live at all, if we live otherwise ! 

But now, I say, whoever may forget this divine 
mystery, the Vates, whether Prophet or Poet, has' 
penetrated into it ; is a man sent hither to make 
it more impressively known to us. That always 
is his message ; he is to reveal that to us, — that 
sacred mystery which he more than others lives 

no Xectures on IDeroes* * 

ever present with. While others forget it; he 
knows it ; — I might say, he has been driven to 
know it ; without consent asked of hhn^ he finds 
himself living in it, bound to live in it. Once 
more, here is no Hearsay, but a direct Insight 
and Belief; this man too could not help being a 
sincere man ! Whosoever may live in the shows 
of things, it is for him a necessity ot nature to^ 
live in the very fact of things. A man once more, 
in earnest with the Universe, though all others 
were but toying with it. He is ji T^<7/^^, firstof 
all, in virtue of being sincere. So far Poet and 
Prophet, participators in the 'ppen secret,' ^are 
one. ^ ' 

With respect to their distinction again : Tlie 
Vatcs Prophet, we might say, has seized that 
sacred mystery rather on the moral side, as Good* 
and Evil, Duty and Prohibition ; the Vates Poet 
on what the Germans call the sesthetic side, a* 
Beautiful, and the like. The one we may call a 
revealer of what we are to do, the other of what we- 
are to love. But indeed these two provinces run\ 
into one another, and cannot be disjoined. Th« 
Prophet too has his eye on what we are to love : 
how else shall he know what it is we are to do ? 
The highest Voice ever heard on this earth said 
withal, " Consider the lilies of the field ; they toil 
not, neither do they spin ; yet Solomon in all 
his glory was not arrayed like one of these." A 
glance, that, into the deepest deep of Beauty 
* The lilies of the field,' — dressed finer than 
earthly princes, springing-up there in the humble 
furrow-field ; a beautiful eye looking-out on you, 
from the great inner Sea of Beauty ! • How could 

{Tbc Ibcro as ipoet m 

the rude Earth make these, if her Essence, rugged 
as she looks and is, were not inwardly Beauty ? 
In this point of view, too, a saying of Goethe's, 
which has staggered several, may have meaning : 
* The Beautiful' he intimates, ' is higher than the 
Good ; the Beautiful includes in it ' the Good.' 
The true Beautifuf ; which however, I have said 

^somewhere, 'differs from \\\q false as Heaven 
does from Vauxhall ! ' So much for the distinc- 
tion and identity of Poet and Prophet. — 

In ancieiU and also in modern periods we find 
a few Poets who are accounted perfect ; wdiorn it 
we;"e a kind of treason to find fault with. This 
is noteworthy , this Is right : yet in strictness it is 
only an illusion. At bottom, clearly enough, there 

^is no perfect Poet !-^ A vein of Poetry exists in 
the hearts 6f all men : no man is made altogether 

' o^ Poetr}A We are all poets when we read a poem 
well. The ' imagination that shudders at the 

. Hell of Dante,' is not that the same faculty, 
weaker in degree, as Dante's own ? No one but 
Shakspeare can embody, out of Saxo Grammat- 
icus, the story of Hamlet as Shakspeare did : but 
every one models some kind of story out of it ; 
every one embodies it better or worse. We need 
not spend time in defining. Where there is no 
specific difference, as between round and square, 
all definition must be more or less arbitrary. A 
man that has so much more of the poetic element 
developed in him as to have become noticeable, 
will be called Poet by his neighbors. World- 
Poets too, those whom we are to take for perfect 
Poets, are settled by critics in the same way. 
One who rises so far above the general level of 

112 Xectures on Iberocs. 

Poets will, to such and such critics, seem a Uni- 
versal Poet ; as he ought to do. And yet it is, 
and must be, an arbitrary distinction. All Poets, 
all men, have some touches of the Universal ; no 
man is wholly made of that. Most Poets are 
very soon forgotten: but not the noblest Shak- 
speare or Homer of them can be remembered 
forever ; — a day comes when he too is not ! 

Nevertheless, you will say, there must be a 
difference between true Poetry and true Speech 
not poetical : what is the difference ? On this 
point many things have been written, especially 
by late German Critics, some of which are not 
very intelligible at first. They say, for example, 
that the Poet has an infinitude in him ; communi- 
cates an Unendlichkeit, a certain character of 
'infinitude,' to whatsoever he delineates. This, 
though not very precise, yet on so vague a matter 
is worth remembering: if well meditated, some 
meaning will gradually be found in it. For my 
own part, I find considerable meaning in the old 
vulgar distinction of Poetry being metrical^ having 
music in it, being a Song. Truly, if pressed to 
give a definition, one might say this as soon as 
anything else : If your delineation be authen- 
tically 77iusical, musical not in word only, but in^ 
heart and substance, in all the thoughts and 
utterances of it, in the whole conception of it, 
then it will be poetical ; if not, not. — Musical : - 
how much lies in that ! A mtisiea/ thought is one 
spoken by a mind that has penetrated into the 
inmost heart of the thing ; detected the inmost 
mystery of it, namely the me/ody that lies hidden 
in it ; the inward harmony of coherence which is 

Zbc 1bero as iPoet. 113 

its soul, whereby it exists, and has a right to be 
here in this world. All inmost things, we may- 
say, are melodious ; naturally utter themselves in 
Song. The meaning of Song goes deep. Who is 
there that, in logical words, can express the 
effect music has on us ? A kind of inarticulate 
unfathomable speech, which leads us to the edge 
of the Infinite and lets us for moments gaze into 
that ! 

Nay all speech, even the commonest speech, 
has something of song in it : not a parish in the 
world but has its parish-accent ; — the rhythm or 
tune to which the people there s/ng what they 
have to say ! Accent is a kind of chanting ; all 
men have accent of their own, — though they only 
notice that of others. Observe too how all pas- 
sionate language does of itself become musical, — 
with a finer music than the mere accent ; the 
speech of a man even in zealous anger becomes 
a chant, a song. All deep things are Song. It 
seems somehow the very central essence of us. 
Song ; as if all the rest were but wrappages and 
hulls ! The primal element of us ; of us, and of 
all things. The Greeks fabled of Sphere-Har- 
monies : it was the feeling they had of the inner 
structure of Nature ; that the soul of all her 
voices and utterances was perfect music. Poetry, 
therefore, we will call inusical thought. The Poet 
is he who thinks in that manner. At bottom, it 
turns still on power of intellect ; it is a man's 
sincerity and depth of vision that makes him a 
Poet. See deep enough, and you see musically ; 
the heart of Nature being everywhere music, if 
you can only reach it. 

114 Xectures on Iberocs, 

The Fates Poet, with his melodious Apocalypse 
of Nature, seems to hold a poor rank among us, 
in comparison with the Fates Prophet ; his func- 
tion, and our esteem of him for his function, alike 
slight. The Hero taken as Divinity ; the Hero 
taken as Prophet ; then next the Hero taken only 
as Poet : does it not look as if our estimate of the 
Great ]\Ian, epoch after epoch, were continually 
diminishing? We take him first for a god,- then 
for one god-inspired ; and now in the next stage 
of it, his most miraculous word gains from us 
only the recognition that he is a Poet, beautiful 
verse-maker, man of genius, or suchlike ! — It looks 
so ; but I persuade myself that intrinsically it is 
not so. If we consider well, it will perhaps- ap-" 
pear that in man still there is the sayne altogether 
peculiar admiration for the Heroic Gift, by what 
name soever called, that there at any time. was. 

I should say, if we do not now reckon a Great 
Man literally divine, it is that 'our notions of God, 
of the supreme unattainable Fountain of Splen- 
dor, Wisdom and Heroism, are ever rising higher; 
not altogether that our reverence for these quali- 
ties, as manifested in our like, is getting lower. 
This is worth taking thought of. Sceptical 
Dilettantism, the curse of these ages, a curse 
which will not last forever, does indeed in this 
the highest province of human things, as in all 
provinces, make sad work ; and our reverence for 
great men, all crippled, blinded, paralytic as it is, 
comes out in poor plight, hardly recognizable. 
Men worship the shows of great men ; the most 
disbelieve that there is any reality of great men 
to worship. The dreariest, fatalest faith ; believ- 

Zbc Ibero as iPoet, 115 

ing -which, one would literally despair of human 
things. Nevertheless look, for example^ at Na- 
poleon ! A Corsican lieutenant of artillery , that is 
the show of /ii?/i : yet is he not obeyed, u<07-shipped 
after his sort, as all the Tiaraed and Diademed 
of the world put together, could not be? High 
Duchesses, and ostlers of inns, gather round the 
Scottish rustic. Burns ; — a strange feeling dwell- 
ing in each that they never heard a man like this ; 
that, on the whole, this is the man ! In the secret 
heart of these people it still dimly reveals itself, 
though there is no accredited way of uttering it 
at present, that this rustic, with his black brows 
and flashing sun-eyes, and strange words moving 
laughter and tears, is of a dignity far beyond all 
others, incommensurable with all others. Do not 
we feel it so ? But now, were Dilettantism, Scep- 
ticism, Triviality, and all that sorrowful brood, 
•cast-oiU of us, — as, by God's blessing, they shall 
one day be ; were faith in the shows of things 
entirely swept-out, replaced by clear faith in the 
t/iings, so that a man acted on the impulse of that 
only, and counted the other non-extant ; what a 
new livelier feeling towards this Burns were it ! 

Nay here in these ages, such as they are, have 
\ve not two mere Poets, if not deified, yet we may 
say beatified ? Shakspeare and Dante are Saints 
of Poetry ; really, if we will think of it, canonized, 
so that it is impiety to meddle with them. The 
Unguided instinct of the world, working across all 
these perverse impediments, has arrived at such 
result. Dante and Shakspeare are a peculiar Two. 
They dwell apart, in a kind of royal solitude ; 
none equal, none second to them : in the general 

ii6 Xectures on Iberoes. 

feeling of the world, a certain transcendentalism, 
a glory as of complete perfection, invests these 
two. They are canonized, though no Pope or 
Cardinals took hand in doing it ! Such, in spite 
of every perverting influence, in the most un- 
heroic times, is still our indestructible reverence 
for heroism. — We will look a little at these Two, 
the Poet Dante and the Poet Shakspeare : what 
little it is permitted us to say here of the Hero as 
Poet will most fitly arrange itself in that fashion. 

Many volumes have been written by way of 
commentary on Dante and his Book ; yet, on the 
whole, with no great result. His Biography is, as 
it were, irrecoverably lost for us. An unimportant, 
wandering, sorrow-stricken man, not much note 
was taken of him while he lived ; and the most 
of that has vanished, in the long space that now 
intervenes. It is five centuries since he ceased 
writing and living here. After all commentaries, 
the Book itself is mainly what we know^ of him.. 
The Book ; — and one might add that Portrait 
commonly attributed to Giotto, which, looking on 
it, you cannot help inclining to think genuine, 
whoever did it. To me it is a most touching 
face ; perhaps of all faces that I know, the most 
so. Lonely there, painted as on vacancy, with 
the simple laurel wound round it ; the deathless 
sorrow and pain, the known victory which is also 
deathless ; — significant of the whole history of 
Dante ! I think it is the mournfulest face that 
ever was painted from reality ; an altogether tragic 
heart-affecting face. There is in it, as foundation 
of it, the softness, tenderness, gentle affection as 

XLbc fbcxo 25 ^oct. 


of a child ; but all this is as if congealed into 
sharp contradiction, into abnegation, isolation, 
proud, hopeless pain. A soft ethereal soul look- 
ing-out so stern, implacable, grim-trenchant, as 
from imprisonment of thick-ribbed ice ! Withal 
it is a silent pain too, a silent scornful one : the 
lip is curled in a kind of godlike disdain of the 
thing that is eating-out his heart, — as if it were 
A\'ithal a mean, insignificant thing, as if he whom 
it had power to torture and strangle were greater 
than it. The face of one wholly in protest, and 
life-long unsurrendering battle, against the world. 
Affection all converted into indignation : an im- 
placable indignation ; slow, equable, silent, like 
that of a god ! The eye, too, it looks-out — in a 
kind of surp7'ise, a kind of inquiry. Why the world 
vas of such a sort ? This is Dante : so he looks, 
this 'voice often silent centuries,' and sings us 
'his mystic unfathomable song.' 

The little that we know of Dante's Life corre- 
sponds well enough with this Portrait and this 
Book. He was born at Florence, in the upper 
class of society, in the year 1265. His education 
was the best then going ; much school-divinity, 
Aristotelean logic, some Latin classics, — no in- 
considerable insight into certain provinces of 
things : and Dante, with his earnest intelligent 
nature, we need not doubt, learned better than 
most all that was learnable. He has a clear 
cultivated understanding, and of great subtlety ; 
this best fruit of education he had contrived to 
realize from these scholastics. He knows accu- 
rately and well what lies close to him ; but, in 
such a time, without printed books or free inter- 

ii8 Xectures on 1beroc6» 

course, he could not know well what was distant t 
the small clear light, most luminous for what is 
near, breaks itself into singular chiaroscuro striking 
on what is far off. This was Dante's learning from 
the schools. In life, he had gone through the 
usual destinies ; been twice out campaigning as 
a soldier for the Florentine State ; been on em- 
bassy ; had in his thirty-fifth year, by natural 
gradation of talent and service, become one of 
the Chief Magistrates of Florence. He had met 
in boyhood a certain Beatrice Portinari, a beauti- 
ful little girl of his own age and rank, and grown- 
up thenceforth in partial sight of her, in some 
distant intercourse with her. All readers know 
his graceful affecting account of this; and then 
of their being parted ; of her being wedded ta 
another, and of her death soon after. She makes 
a great figure in Dante's Poem ; seems to have 
made a great figure in his life. Of all beings it 
might seem as if she, held apart from him, far 
apart at last in the dim Eternity, were the only 
one he had ever with his whole strength of affec- 
tion loved. She died : Dante himself was wedded ; 
but it seems not happily, far from happily. I 
fancy, the rigorous earnest man, with his keen 
excitabilities, was not altogether easy to make 

We will not complain of Dante's miseries : had 
all gone right with him as he wished it, he might 
have been Prior, Podesta or whatsoever they call 
it, of Florence, well accepted among neighbors, 
• — and the world had wanted one of the most 
notable words ever spoken or sung. Florence 
would have had another prosperous Lord Mayor ; 


^be Ibero as ipoct. 119 

and the ten dumb centuries continued voiceless, 
and the ten otlier listening centuries (for there 
Avill be ten of them and more) had no Divina 
Ccmimedia to hear ! W' e will complain of nothing. 
A nobler destiny was appointed for this Dante ; 
and he, struggling like a man led towards death 
and crucifixion, could not help fulfilling it. Give 
Jiim the choice of his happiness ! He knew not, 
more than we do, what was really happy, what 
•was really miserable. 

In Dante's Priorship, the Guelf-Ghibelline, 
Bianchi-Neri, or some other confused disturbances 
rose to such a height, that Dante, whose party 
had seemed the stronger, was with his friends 
cast unexpectedly forth into banishment ; doomed 
thenceforth to a life of woe and wandering. His 
property was all confiscated and more ; he had 
the fiercest feeling that it was entirely unjust, 
nefarious in the sight of God and man. He tried 
Avhat was in him to get reinstated ; tried even by 
warlike surprisal, with arms in his hand : but it 
"would not do ; bad only had become worse. 
There is a record, I believe, still extant in the 
Florence Archives, dooming this Dante, whereso- 
ever caught, to be burnt alive. Burnt alive ; so 
it stands, they say : a very curious civic docu- 
ment. Another curious document, some consider- 
able number of years later, is a Letter of Dante's 
to the Florentine Magistrates, written in answer 
to a milder proposal of theirs, that he should 
return on condition of apologizing and paying a 
fine. He answers, with fixed stern pride : " If I 
cannot return without calling myself guilty, I will 
iiever return, fiimquam j-evertarT 

120 Xectures on Iberoes. 

For Dante there was now no home in this 
world. He wandered from patron to patron, from 
place to place ; proving, in his own bitter words, 
' How hard is the path, Covie e diiro calle.^ The 
wretched are not cheerful company. Dante, poor 
and banished, with his proud earnest nature, with 
his moody humors, was not a man to conciliate 
men. Petrarch reports of him that being at Can 
della Scala's court, and blamed one day for his 
gloom and taciturnity, he answered in no courtier- 
like way. Delia Scala stood among his courtiers, 
with mimes and buffoons {iiebidones ac histrio?ies) 
making him heartily merry ; when turning to 
Dante, he said : " Is it not strange, now, that this 
poor fool should make himself so entertaining ; 
while you, a wise man, sit there day after day^ 
and have nothing to amuse us with at all t " 
Dante answered bitterly : " No, not strange ; your 
Highness is to recollect the Proverb, Like ta 
Like ; " — given the amuser, the amusee must also 
be given ! Such a man, with his proud silent 
ways, with his sarcasms and sorrows, was not 
made to succeed at court. By degrees, it came 
to be evident to him that he had no longer any 
resting-place, or hope of benefit, in this earths 
The earthly world had cast him forth, to wander,, 
wander ; no living heart to love him now ; for his 
sore miseries there was no solace here. 

The deeper naturally would the Eternal World 
impress itself on him ; that awful reality over 
which, after all, this Time-world, with its Florences 
and banishments, only flutters as an unreal shadow. 
Florence thou shalt never see : but Hell and 
Purgatory and Heaven thou shalt surely seel 

XLlyc Ibero as poet, 121 

What is Florence, Can della Scala, and the World 
and Life altogether ? Eternity : thither, of a 
truth, not elsewhither, art thou and all things 
bound ! The great soul of Dante, homeless on 
earth, made its home more and more in that 
awful other world. Naturally his thoughts brooded 
on that, as on the one fact important for him. 
Bodied or bodiless, it is the one fact important 
for all men : — but to Dante, in that age, it was 
bodied in fixed certainty of scientific shape ; he 
no more doubted of that Makholge Pool, that it 
all lay there with its gloomy circles, with its alti 
glial, and that he himself should see it, than we 
doubt that we should see Constantinople if we 
went thither. Dante's heart, long filled with this, 
brooding over it in speechless thought and awe, 
bursts forth at length into 'mystic unfathomable 
song ; ' and this his Divine Comedy, the most re- 
markable of all modern Books, is the result. 

It must have been a great solacement to Dante, 
and was, as we can see, a proud thought for him 
at times. That he, here in exile, could do this 
work ; that no Florence, nor no man or men, 
could hinder him from doing it, or even much 
help him in doing it. He knew too, partly, that 
it was great ; the greatest a man could do. * If 
thou follow thy star, Se tii segui tua stella,'' — so 
could the Hero, in his forsakenness, in his extreme 
need, still say to himself : " Follow thou thy star, 
thou shalt not fail of a glorious haven ! " The 
labor of writing, we find, and indeed could know 
otherwise, was great and painful for him ; he 
says. This Book, ' which has made me lean for 
many years.' Ah yes, it was won, all of it, with 

i22 Xcctures on Iberocs. 

pain and sore toil, — not in sport, but in grim 
earnest. His Book, as indeed most good Books 
are, has been written, in many senses, witli Iiis 
heart's blood. It is his whole history, this Book. 
He died after finishing it ; not yet very old, at 
the age of fifty-six ; — broken-hearted rather, as is 
said. He lies buried in his death-city Ravenna , 
Hie daiidor Dantes patriis exto?'ris ab oris. The 
Florentines begged back his body, in a century 
after ; the Ravenna people would not give it. 
" Here am I Dante laid, shut-out from my native 

I said, Dante's Poem was a Song : it is Tieck 
who calls it ' a mystic unfotliomable Song ; ' and 
such is literally the character of it. Coleridge 
remarks very pertinently somewhere, that wher- 
ever you find a sentence musically worded, of 
true rhythm and melody in the words, there is 
something deep and good in the meaning too. 
For body and soul, word and idea, go strangely 
together here as everywhere. Song : we said be- 
fore, it was the Heroic of Speech ! All ^Z'/ Poems, 
Homer's and the rest, are authentically Songs. 
I would say, in strictness, that all right Poems 
are ; that whatsoever is not sung is properly no 
Poem, but a piece of Prose cramped into jingling 
lines, — to the great injury of the grammar, to the 
great grief of the reader, for most part ! What 
we want to get at is the thought the man had, if 
he had any ; why should he twist it into jingle, if 
he could speak it out plainly ? It is only when the 
heart of him is rapt into true passion of melody, 
and the very tones of him, according to Cole- 
ridge's remark, become musical by the greatness. 

Zbc 1bero as poet. 123 

depth and music of his thoughts, that we can 
give him right to rhyme and sing ; that we call 
him a Poet, and listen to him as the Heroic of 
Speakers, — whose speech is Song. Pretenders 
to this are many ; and to an earnest reader, I 
doubt, it is for most part a very melancholy, not 
to say an insupportable business, that of reading 
rhyme ! Rhyme that had no inward necessity to 
be rhymed : — it ought to have told us plainly, 
without any jingle, what it was aiming at. I 
would advise all men who ax^i speak their thought, 
not to sing it ; to understand that, in a serious 
time, among serious men, there is no vocation in 
them for singing it. Precisely as we love the- 
true song, and are charmed by it as by something 
divine, so shall we hate the false song, and ac- 
cqinit it a mere wooden noise, a thing hollow, 
superfluous, altogether an insincere and offensive 

I give Dante my highest praise when I say of 
his Divine Comedy that it is, in all senses, gen- 
uinely a Song. In the very sound of it there is 
z. canto fervio ; it proceeds as by a chant. The 
language, his simple terza rima^ doubtless helped 
him in this. One reads along naturally with a 
sort of ////. But I add, that it could not be other- 
wise ; for the essence and material of the work 
are themselves rhythmic. Its depth, and rapt 
passion and sincerity, makes it musical ; — go deep 
enough, there is music everywhere. A ^rue in- 
ward symmetry, what one calls an architectural 
harmony, reigns in it, proportionates it all : arch- 
itectural ; which also partakes of the character of 
music. The three kingdoms, Inferno, Fiirgatorio, 

124 Xectuuc5 on tberoes. 

Paradiso^ look-out on one another like compart 
ments of a great edifice ; a great supernatural 
world-cathedral, piled-up there, stern, solemn, 
awful ; Dante's World of Souls ! It is, at bottom, 
the sincerest of all Poems ; sincerity, here too, we 
find to be the measure of worth. It came deep 
out of the author's heart of hearts ; and it goes 
deep, and through long generations, into ours. 
The people of Verona, when they saw him on 
the streets, used to say, " Eccovi /' uom ch' e stato 
air Inferno, See, there is the man that was in 
Hell ! '" Ah yes, he had been in Hell ;— in Hell 
enough, in long severe sorrow and struggle ; as 
the like of him is pretty sure to have been. 
Commedias that come-out divine are not accom- 
plished otherwise. Thought, true labor of any 
kind, highest virtue itself, is it not the daughter 
of Pain t Born as out of the black whirlwind ; — 
true effort, in fact, as of a captive struggling to 
free himself : that is Thought. In all ways we 
are * to become perfect through siffering.'' — But, 
as I say, no work known to me is so elaborated 
as this of Dante's. It has all been as if molten, 
in the hottest furnace of his soul. It had made 
him ' lean ' for many years. Not the general 
whole only ; every compartment of it is worked 
out, with intense earnestness, into truj:h, into 
clear visuality. Each answers to the other ; each 
fits in its place, like a marble stone accurately 
hewn and polished. It is the soul of Dante, and 
in this the soul of the middle ages, rendered for- 
ever rhythmically visible there. No light task ; 
a right intense one : but a task which is done. 
Perhaps one would sdiy^intm^dtXi with the much 

^be Ibero as ipoct. 125 

that depends on it, is the prevailing character of 
Dante's genius. Dante does not come before us 
as a large catholic mind ; rather as a narrow, and 
even sectarian mind : it is partly the fruit of his 
age and position, but partly too of his own nature. 
His greatness has, in all senses, concentered it- 
self into fiery emphasis and depth. He is world- 
great not because he is world-wide, but because 
he is world-deep. Through all objects he pierces 
as it were down into the heart of Being. I know 
nothing so intense as Dante. Consider, for ex- 
ample, to begin with the outermost development 
of his intensity, consider bow he paints. He has 
a great power of vision ; seizes the very type of 
a thing ; presents that and nothing more. You 
remember that first view he gets of the Hall of 
Dite : 7-ed pinnacle, redhot cone of iron glowing 
through the dim immensity of gloom ; — so vivid, 
so distinct, visible at once and forever ! It is as 
an emblem of the whole genius of Dante. There 
is a brevity, an abrupt precision in him : Tacitus 
is not briefer, more condensed ; and then in 
Dante it seems a natural condensation, sponta- 
neous to the man. One smiting word ; and then 
there is silence, nothing more said. His silence 
is more eloquent than words. It is strange with 
what a ^harp decisive grace he snatches the true 
likeness of a matter : cuts into the matter as with 
a pen of fire. Plutus, the blustering giant, col- 
lapses at Virgil's rebuke ; it is ' as the sails sink, 
the mast being suddenly broken.' Or that poor 
Brunette Latini, with the cotto aspetto, ' face baked,' 
parched brown and lean ; and the ' fiery snow ' 
that falls on them there,' a ' fiery snow without 

126 Xectures on Iberoes. 

wind,' slow, deliberate, never-ending I Or the 
lids of those Tombs; square sarcophaguses, in 
that silent dim-burning Hall, each with its Soul 
in torment; the lids laid open there ; they are to 
be shut at the Day of Judgment, through Eternity. 
And how Farinata rises ; an4 how Cavalcante 
falls — at hearing of his Son, and the past tense 
'■fue ' I The very movements in Dante have 
something brief ; swift, decisive, almost military. 
It is of the inmost essence of his genius this sort 
of painting. The fiery, swift Italian nature of 
the man, so silent, passionate, with its quick 
abrupt movei-^ents, its silent 'pale rages,' speaks 
itself in'these^ things. 

For though this of painting is one of the out- 
ermost developments of a man, it comes like all 
else from the essential faculty of him ; it is 
physiognomical of the whole man. Find a man 
whose words paint you a likeness, you have 
found a man worth something ; mark his man- 
ner of doing it, as very characteristic of him. In 
the first place, he could not have discerned 
the object at all, or seen the vital type of 
it, unless he had, what we may call, sympathized 
with it, — had sympathy in him to bestow on 
objects. He must have been sincere about 
it too ; sincere and sympathetic : a man without 
worth cannot give you the likeness of any 
object ; he dwells in vague outwardness, fallacy 
and trivial hearsay, about all objects. And 
indeed may we not say that intellect altogether 
expresses itself in this power of discerning what 
an object is ? Whatsoever of faculty a man's 
mind may have will come out here. Is it even 

XLbc Ibero as poet. 127 

of business, a matter to be done ? The gifted 
man is he who sees the essential point, and leaves 
all the rest aside as surplusage : it is his faculty 
too, the man of business's faculty, that he discern 
the true likeness, not the false superficial one, of 
the thing he has got to work in. And how much 
of viorality is . in the kind of insight we get of 
anything ; ' the eye seeing in all things what it 
' brought with it the faculty of seeing ' ! To the 
mean eye all things are trivial, as certainly as to 
the jaundiced they are yellow. Raphael, the 
Painters tell us, is the best of all Portrait-painters 
withal. No most gifted eye can exhaust _ th^ 
significance of any object. In ihe commonest 
human face there lies more than Raphael will 
take away with him. 

Dante's painting is not graphic only, brief, true, 
and of a vividness as of fire in dark night ; taken 
on the wider scale, it is every way noble, and the 
outcome of a great soul. Francesca and her 
Lover, what qualities in that ! A thing woven 
as out of rainbows, on a ground of eternal black. 
A small flute-voice of infinite wail speaks there, 
into our very heart of hearts. A touch of woman- 
hood in it too : della bella persona, che mi fit 
tolta ; and how, even in the Pit of woe, it is a 
solace that he will never part from her ! Saddest 
tragedy in these alti giiai. And the racking 
winds, in that aer bruno, whirl them away again, 
to wail forever ! — Strange to think : Dante was 
the friend of this poor Francesca's father ; 
Francesca herself may have sat upon the Poet's 
knee, as a bright innocent little child. Infinite 
pity, yet also infinite rigor of law : it is so Nature 

12 8 Xcctures on Iberoes. 

\s made ; it is so Dante discerned that she was 
made. What a paltry notion is that of his Divine 
Comedy's being a poor splenetic impotent terres- 
trial libel ; putting those into Hell whom he 
could not be avenged-upon on earth ! I suppose 
if ever pity, tender as a mother's, was in the heart 
of any man, it was in Dante's. But a man who 
does not know rigor cannot pity either. His 
very pity will be cowardly, egoistic, — sentiment- 
ality, or little better. I know not in the world an 
affection equal to that of Dante. It is a tender- 
ness, a trembling, longing, pitying love : like 
the wail of^olean harps, soft, soft ; like a child's 
young heart ; — and then that stern, sore-saddened 
heart ! These longings of his towards his 
Beatrice ; their meeting together in the Fcvradiso ; 
his gazing in her pure transfigured, her that 
had been purified by death so long, separated 
from him so far : — one likens it to the song of 
angels ; it is among the purest utterances of affec- 
tion, perhaps the very purest, that ever came out 
of a human soul. 

For the ifitense Dante is intense in all things ; 
he has got into the essence of all. His intellectual 
insight as painter, on occasion too as reasoner, 
is but the result of all other sorts of intensity. 
Morally great, above all, we must call him ; it is 
the beginning of all. His scorn, his grief are as 
transcendent as his love ; — as indeed, what are 
they but the inverse or converse of his love ? ' A 
Die spiace?iti ed a' neifiici sui, Hateful to God and 
to the enemies of God : ' lofty scorn, unappeas- 
able silent reprobation and aversion ; ' JVon 
ragio7iam di lor. We will not speak of them, look 

^be 1bero as ipoet. 129 

only and pass.' Or think of this: 'They have 
not the hope to die, Non han speranza di morte.^ 
One day, it had risen sternly benign on the 
scathed heart of Dante, that he, wretched, never- 
resting, worn as he was, would full surely die ; 
' that Destiny itself could not doom him not to 
die.' Such words are in this man. For rigor, 
earnestness and depth, he is not to be paralleled 
in the modern world ; to seek his parallel we 
must go into the Hebrew Bible, and live with the 
antique Prophets there. 

I do not agree with much modern criticism, in 
greatly preferring the Infer?io to the two other 
parts of the Divine Cojumedia. Such preference 
belongs, I imagine, to our general Byronism of 
taste, and is like to be a transient feeling. The 
Purgatorio and Paradiso, especially the former, 
one would almost say, is even more excellent 
than it. It is a noble thing that Purgatorio^ 
* Mountain of Purification ; ' an emblem of the 
noblest conception of that age. If Sin is so 
fatal, and Hell is and must be so rigorous, awful, 
yet in Repentance too is man purified ; Repent- 
ance is the grand Christian act. It is beautiful 
how Dante works it out. The tremolar dcIT o?ide, 
that ' trembling ' of the ocean-waves, under the 
first pure gleam of morning, dawning afar on 
the wandering Two, is as the type of an altered 
mood. Hope has now dawned ; never-dying 
Hope, if in company still with heavy sorrow. 
The obscure sojourn of daemons and reprobate 
is underfoot ; a soft breathing of penitence mounts 
higher and higher, to the Throne of Mercy itself. 
" Pray for me," the denizens of that Mount of 

130 Xectures on Iberoes. 

Pain all say to him. " Tell my Giovanna to pray 
for me," my daughter Giovanna ; " I think her 
mother loves me no more ! " They toil painfully 
up by that winding steep, ' bent-down like cor- 
bels of a building,' some of them, — crushed 
too;ether so 'for the sin of pride ; ' yet neverthe- 
less in years, in ages and aeons, they shall have 
r'^ached the top, which is Heaven's gate, and by 
Mercy shall have been admitted in. The joy too 
of all, when one has prevailed ; the whole Mount- 
ain shakes with joy, and a psalm of praise rises 
when one soul has perfected repentance and got 
its sin and misery left behind ! I call all this a 
noble embodiment of a true noble thought. 

But indeed the Three compartments mutually 
support one another, are indispensable to one 
another. The Paradiso, a kind of inarticulate 
music to me, is the redeeming side of the Inferno ; 
the Inferno without it were untrue. All three 
make-up the true Unseen World, as figured in 
the Christianity of the Middle Ages ; a thing 
forever memorable, forever true in the essence 
of it, to all men. It was perhaps" delineated in 
no human soul with such depth of veracity as in 
this of Dante's ; a man se?it to sing it, to keep it 
long memorable. Very notable with what brief 
simplicity he passes put of the every-day reality, 
into the Invisible one ; and in the second or 
third stanza, we find ourselves in the World of 
Spirits ; and dwell there, as among things pal- 
pable, indubitable ! To Dante they 7£/^;'^so ; the 
real world, as it is called, and-its facts, was but 
the threshold to an infinitely higher Fact of a 
World. At bottom, the one was as preterndXViXzS 

mm i liftvi 

[i ii iJ'lnl'ii<!< I ' I I II ' 


Zbc 1bero as iPoct 131 

as the other. Has not each man a soul ? He will 
not only be a spirit, but is one. To the earnest 
Dante it is all one visible Fact ; he believe it, sees 
it ; is the Poet of it in virtue of that. Sincerity^ 
I say again, is the saving merit, now as always. 

Dante's Hell, Purgatory, Paradise, are a sym- 
bol withal, an emblematic representation of his 
Belief about this Universe : — some Critic in a 
future age, like some Scandinavian ones the other 
day, who has ceased altogether to think as Dante 
did, may find this too all an 'Allegory,' perhaps 
,an idle Allegory i It is a sublime embodiment, 
.or sublimest, of the soul of Christianity. It 
expresses, as in huge worldwide architectural 
emblems, how the Christian Dante felt Good and 
Evil to be the two polar elements of this Crea- 
tion, on which it all turns ; that these two differ 
not by preferability of one to the other, but by 
incompatibility absolute and infinite ; that the 
one is excellent and high as light and Heaven, 
the other hideous, black as Gehenna and the 
Pit of Hell ! Everlasting Justice, yet with Peni- 
tence, with everlasting Pity, — all Christianism, as 
Dante and the Middle Ages had it, is emblemed 
here. Emblemed : and yet, as I urged the other 
day, with what entire truth of purpose ; how un- 
conscious of any embleming ! Hell, Purgatory, 
Paradise : these things were not fashioned as 
emblems ; was there, in our Modern European 
Mind, any thought at all of their being emblems ! 
Were they not indubitable awful facts; the whole 
heart of man taking them for practically true, all 
Nature everywhere confirming them ? So is it 
always in these things. Men do not believe an 


Xectures on Iberoes. 

Allegory. The future Critic, whatever his new 
thought may be, who considers this of Dante to 
have been all got-up as an Allegory, will commit 
one sore mistake ! — Paganism we recognized as a 
veracious expression of the earnest awe-struck 
feeling of man towards the Universe ; veracious, 
true once, and still not without worth for us. 
But mark here the difference of Paganism and 
Christianism ; one great difference. Paganism 
emblemed chiefly the Operations of Nature ; 
the destinies, efforts, combinations, vicissitudes 
of things and men in this world ; Christianism 
emblemed the Law of Human Duty, the Moral 
Law of Man. One was for the sensuous nature ; 
a rude helpless utterance of the yfrj-/ Thought 
of men, — the chief recognized virtue. Courage, 
Superiority to Fear. The other was not for the 
sensuous nature, but for the moral. What a 
progress is here, if in that one respect only ! — 

And so in this Dante, as we said, had ten silent 
centuries, in a very strange way, found a voice. 
The Divina Commedia is of Dante's writing ; yet 
in truth it belongs to ten Christian centuries, only 
the finishing of it is Dante's. So always. The 
craftsman there, the smith with that metal of his, 
with these tools, with these cunning methods, — • 
how little of all he does is properly his work ! All 
past inventive men work there with him ; — as 
indeed with all of us, in all things. Dante is the 
spokesman of the Middle Ages ; the Thought 
they lived by stands here, in everlasting music. 
These sublime ideas of his, terrible and beautiful, 
are the fruit of the Christian Meditation of ail the 

^be Ibero as poet. 135, 

good men who had gone before him. Precious 
they ; but also is not he precious ? Much, had not 
he spoken, would have been dumb ; not dead, yet 
livirig" Voiceless. 

On the whc-ie, is it not an utterance, this mystic 
Song, at once of one of the greatest human souls, 
and of the highest thing that Europe had hitherto 
realized for itself ? Christianism, as Dante sings 
it, is another than Paganism in the rude Norse 
mind ; another than ' Bastard Christianism ' half- 
articulately spoken in the Arab Desert seven- 
hundred years before ! — The noblest idea made 
r^^/ hitherto among men, is sung, and emblemed- 
forth abidingly, by one of the noblest men. In 
the one sense and in the other, are we not right 
glad to possess it ? As I calculate, it may last 
yet for long thousands of years. For the thing that 
is uttered from the inmost parts of a man's soul, 
differs altogether from what is uttered by the 
outer part The outer is of the day, under the 
empire of mode ; the outer passes away, in swift 
endless changes ; the inmost is the same yester- 
day, to-day and forever. True souls, in all. 
generations of the world, who look on this Dante, 
will find a brotherhood in him ; the deep sincerity 
of his thoughts, his woes and hopes, will speak 
likewise to their sincerity ; they will feel that this 
Dante, too, was a brother. Napoleon in Saint- 
Helena is charmed with the genial veracity of old 
Homer. The oldest Hebrew Prophet, under a 
vesture the most diverse from ours, does yet,, 
because he speaks from the heart of man, speak 
to all men's hearts. It is the one sole secret of 
continuing long memorable. Dante, for depth of 


Xectures on Iberoes. 

•sincerity, is like an antique Prophet too ; his words, 
like theirs, come from his very heart. One need 
not wonder if it were predicted that his Poem 
might be the most enduring thing our Europe has 
yet made ; for nothing so endures as a truly spoken 
word. All cathedrals, pontificalities, brass and 
stone, and outer arrangement never so lasting, 
are brief in comparison to an unfathomable heart- 
song like this : one feels as it might survive, still of 
importance to men, when these had all sunk into 
new irrecognizable combinations, and had ceased 
individually to be. Europe has made much ; 
great cities, great empires, encyclopaedias, creeds, 
bodies of opinion and practice : but it has made 
■little of the class of Dante's Thought. Homer yet 
is^ veritably present face to face with every open 
soul of us ; and Greece, where is // 2 Desolate 
for thousands of years ; away, vanished ; a be- 
wildered heap of stones and rubbish, the life and 
existence of it all gone. Like a dream ; like the 
dust of King Agamemnon ! Greece was ; Greece, 
except in the words it spoke, is not. 

The uses of this Dante ? We will not say much 
about his ' uses.' A human soul who has once 
got into that primal element of So7ig, and sung- 
forth fitly somewhat therefrom, has worked in the 
depths of our existence ; feeding through long tim^es ' 
the \\iQ.-roots of all excellent human things what- 
soever, — in a way that ' utilities ' will not succeed 
■well in calculating ! We will not estimate the Sun 
by the quantity of gas-light it saves us ; Dante 
shall be invaluable, or of no value. One remaik 
I may make : the contrast in this respect between 
the Hero-Poet and the Hero-Prophet. In a hun- 

^be 1bero as poet. 135, 

dred years, Mahomet, as we saw, had his Arabian* 
at Grenada and at Delhi ; Dante's Italians seem^ 
to be yet very much where they were. Shall we 
say, then, Dante's effect on the world was small 
in comparison* ? Not so : his arena is far more 
restricted ; bVit also it is far nobler, clearer ;^ 
4)erhaps not less but more important. Mahomet 
speaks to great masses of men, in the coarse 
dialect adapted to such ; a dialect filled with 
inconsistencies, crudities, follies : on the great 
masses alone can he act, and there with good 
and with evil strangely blended. Dante speaks 
to the noble, the pure and great, in all times and 
places. Neither does he grow obsolete, as the 
other does. Dante burns as a pure star, fixed 
there in the firmament, at which the great and 
the high of all ages kindle themselves : he is the 
possession of all the chosen of the world for 
uncounted time. Dante, one calculates, may 
long survive Mahomet. In this way the balance 
may be made straight again. 

But, at any rate, it is not by what is called their 
.effect an the world by what ive can judge of their 
effect there, that a man and his work are measured. 
Effect ? Influence ? Utility } Let a man do his 
work ; the fruit of it is the care of Another than: 
he. It will grow its own fruit ; and whether em-^ ' 
bodied in Caliph Thrones and Arabian Conquests,, 
so that it ' fills all Morning and Evening News- 
papers,' and all Histories, which are a kind of 
distilled Newspapers ; or not embodied so at all ;. 
— what matters that.'' That is not the real fruit 
of it ! The Arabian Caliph, in so far only as hs: 
did something, was something. If the great 

136 Xectures on Iberoes. 

■Ca'use of Man, and Man's work in God's Eami, 
got no furtherance from the Arabian Caliph, then 
no matter How many scimetars he drew, how 
many gold piasters pocketed, and what uproar and 
blaring he made in this world, — he was but a 
loud-sounding inanity and futility ; at bottom, 
he was not at all. Let us honor the great empire 
of Sile?ice^ once more ! The boundless treasury 
which we do not jingle in our pockets, or count 
up and present before men ! It is perhaps, of all 
things, the usefulest for each of us to do, in these 
loud times. 

As Dante, the Italian man, was sent into our" 
world to embody musically the Religion, of the 
Middle Ages, the Religion of our Modern Europe, 
its Inner Life; so Shakspeare, we may say,'e«n- 
bodies for us the Outer Life of our Europe as 
developed then, its chivalries, courtesies, hu- 
mors, ambitions, what practical way of thinking, 
acting, looking at the world, men then had. As 
in Homer we may still construe Old Greece ; so 
in Shakspeare and Dante, after thousands of 
years, what our modern Europe was, in Faith and 
in Practice, will still be legible. Dante has given 
us the Faith or soul ; Shakspeare, in a not less- 
noble way, has given us the Practice or body. 
This latter also we were to have ; a man was^ent 
for it, the man Shakspeare. Just when that 
chivalry way of life had reached its last finish,^ 
and was on the point of breaking down into slow 
or swift dissolution, as we now see it everywhere, 
this other sovereign Poet, with his seeing eye, 
with his perennial singing voice, was sent to take 

ITbe Ibcro as poet. 137 

note of it, to give long-enduring record of it. 
Two fit men : Dante, deep, fierce as the central 
fire of the world ; Shakspeare, wide,.pl^(^d, far- 
seeing, as the Sun, the upper light of the world. 
Italy produced the one world-voice ; we English 
had the honor of producing the other. 

Curious enough how, as it were by mere ac- 
cident, this man came to us. I think always, so 
great, quiet, complete and self-sufficing is this 
Shakspeare, had the Warwickshire Squire not 
pfosecuted him for deer-stealing, we had perhaps 
never heard of him as a Poet ! The woods and 
skies, the rustic Life of Man in Stratford there, 
had been enough for this man ! But indeed that 
strange outbudding of our whole English Exist- 
ence, which we call the Elizabethan Era, did not 
it too come as of its own accord ? The ' Tree 
Igdrasil ' buds and withers by its own laws, — too 
deep for our scanning. Yet it does bud and 
wither, and every bough and leaf of it is there, 
by fixed eternal laws ; not a Sir Thomas Lucy 
but comes at the hour fit for him. Curious, I 
say, and not sufficiently considered : how every- 
thing does cooperate with all ; not a leaf rotting 
on the highway but is indissoluble portion of 
solar and stellar systems ; no thought, word or act 
of man but has sprung withal out of all men, and 
works, sooner or later, recognizably, or irrecogniz- 
^blybnallmen ! It is all a Tree : circulation of sap 
-and influences, mutual communication of every 
minutest leaf with the lowest talon of a root, 
with every other greatest and minutest portion 
of the whole. The Tree Igdrasil, that has 
its roots down in the Kingdoms of Hela and 

i^S Xectures on Ibcroes, 

Death, and whose boughs overspread the highest 
Heaven ! — 

In some sense it may be said that this glorious 
Elizabethan Era with its Shakspeare, as the out- 
come and flowerage of all which had preceded 
it, is itself attributable to the Catholicism of the 
Middle Ages. The Christian Faith, which was 
the theme of Dante's Song, had produced this 
Practical Life which Shakspeare was to sing. 
For Religion then, as it now and always is, was 
the soul of Practice; the primary vital fact in 
men's life. And remark here, as rather curious, 
that Middle-Age Catholicism was abolished, so 
far as Acts of Parliament could abolish it, before 
Shakspeare, the noblest product of it, made 
his appearance. He did make his appearance 
nevertheless. Nature at her own time, with 
Catholicism or what else might be necessary, 
sent him forth ; taking small thought of Acts 
-of Parliament. King-Henrys, Queen-Elizabeths 
go their way ; and Nature, too, goes hers. Acts 
of Parliament, on the whole, are small, not- 
withstanding the noise they make. What Act 
of Parliament, debate at St. Stephen's, on the 
hustings or elsewhere, was it that brought this 
Shakspeare into being ? No dining at Free- 
mason's Tavern, opening subscription-lists, sell- 
ing of shares, and infinite other jangling and true 
or false endeavoring ! This Elizabethan Era, 
-and all its nobleness and blessedness, came with- 
out proclamation, preparation of ours. Priceless 
-Shakspeare was the free gift of Nature ; given 
altogether silently ; — received altogether silently, 
as if it had been a thing of little account. And 


XLbc fbexo as ipoet. 139 

yet, very literally, it is a priceless thing. One 
should look at that side of matters too. 

Of this Shakspeare of ours, perhaps the opin- 
ion one sometimes hears a little idolatrously 
expressed is, in fact, the right one ; I think the 
best judgment not of this country only, but of 
Europe at large, is slowly pointing to the con- 
clusion. That Shakspeare is the chief of all Poets 
hitherto ; the greatest intellect who, in our 
recorded world, has left record of himself in the 
way of Literature. On the whole, I know not 
such a power of vision, such a faculty of thought, 
if we take all the characters of it, in any other 
man. Such a calmness of depth ; placid joyous, 
strength ; all things imaged in that great soul of 
his so true and clear, as in a tranquil unfathom-* 
able sea ! It has been said, that in the con- 
structing of Shakspeare's Dramas there is, apart 
from all other ' faculties ' as they are called, an 
understanding manifested, equal to that in Bacon's 
Novum Organum. That is true ; and it is not a. 
truth that strikes every one. It would become 
more apparent if we tried, any of us for himself, 
how, out of Shakspeare's dramatic materials, we 
could fashion such a result ! The built house 
seems all so fit, — everyway as it should be, as if it 
came there by its own law and the nature of 
things, — we forget the rude disorderly quarry it 
was shaped from. The very perfection of the 
house, as if Nature herself had made it, hides 
the builder's merit. Perfect, more perfect than 
any other man, we may call Shakspeare in this : 
he discerns, knows as by instinct, what condition 
he works under, what his materials are, what his, 

I40 Xectures on Iberoes. 

own force and its relation to them is. It is not 
a transitory glance of insight that will suffice ; it 
is deliberate illumination of the whole matter; it 
is a calmly seeing eye ; a great intellect, in short. 
How a man, of some wide thing that he has wit- 
nessed, will construct a narrative, what kind of 
picture and delineation he will give of it, — is the 
best measure you could get of what intellect is 
in the man. Which circumstance is vital and 
shall stand prominent ; which unessential, fit to 
be suppressed ; where is the true hegimiiiig, the 
true sequence and ending ? To find out this, you 
task the whole force of insight that is in the man. 
He must u?ide?'sta?id the thing ; according to 
the depth of his understanding, will the fitness 
of his answer be. You will try him so. -Does 
like join itself to like ; does the spirit of method 
stir in that confusion, so that its embroilment 
becomes order ? Can the man say. Fiat lux, 
Let there be light ; and out of chaos make a 
world ? Precisely as there is light in himself, 
will he accomplish this. 

Or indeed we may say again, it is in what I 
called Portrait-painting, delineating of men and 
things, especially of men, that Shakspeare is 
great. All the greatness of the man comes out 
decisively here. It is unexampled, I think, that 
calm creative perspicacity of Shakspeare. The 
thing he looks at reveals not this or that face of 
it, but its inmost heart, and generic secret:, it 
dissolves itself as in light before him, so that be 
discerns the perfect structure of it. Creative, we 
said : poetic creation, what is this too but seeing 
the thing sufficiently ? The word that will de- 

^be Ibcro as poet. 141 

scribe the thing, follows of itself from such clear 
intense sight of the thing. And is not Shak- 
speare's morality^ his valof, candor, tolerance, 
truthfulness ; his whole victorious strength and 
greatness, which can triumph over such obstruc- 
tions, visible there too ? Great as the world ! 
No tivisted, poor xonvex-concave mirror, reflect- 
ing all objects with its own convexities and con- 
cavities ; a perfectly level mirror ; — that is to say 
withal, if we will understand it, a man justly 
related to all things and men, a good man. It is 
truly a lordly spectacle how this great soul takes 
in all kinds of men and objects, a Falstaff, an 
Othello, a Juliet, a Coriolanus ; sets them all 
forth to us in their round completeness ; loving, 
just, the equal brother of all. Novum OrgaJium, 
and all the intellect you will find in Bacon, is of 
a quite secondary order ; earthly, material, poor 
in comparison with this. Among modern men, 
one finds, in strictness, almost nothing of the 
same rank. Goethe alone, since the days of 
Shakspeare, reminds me of it. Of him too you 
say that he saw the object ; you may say what 
he himself says of Shakspeare : ' His characters 

• are like watches with dial-plates of transparent 
' crystal ; they show you the hour like others, 

* and the inward nlechanism also is all visible.' 

The Seeing eye ! It is this that discloses the 
inner harmony of things ; what Nature meant, 
what musical idea Nature has wrapped-up in these 
often rough embodiments. Something she did 
mean. To the seeing eye that something were 
discernible. Are they base, miserable things ? 
You can^augh over them, you can weep over 


I ^2 Hectares on l&eroes. 

them , you can in some way or other genially 
relate yourself to them ; — -von can, at lowest, hold 
your peace about them, turn away your own and 
others' face from them, till the hour come for 
practically exterminating and extinguishing them ! 
At bottom, it is the Poet's hrst gift, as it is all 
men's, that he have intellect enough, fie will 
be a Poet if he have : a Poet in word ; or failing 
that, perhaps still better, a Poet in act. Whether 
he write at all ; and if so, whether in prose or in 
verse, will depend on accidents : who knows on 
what extremely trivial accidents, — perhaps on 
his having had a singing-master, on his being' 
taught to sing in his boyhood ! But the faculty J 
which enables him to discern the inner heart of 
things, and the harmony that dwells there (for 
whatsoever exists has a harmony in the heart of "^ 
it, or it would not hold together and exist), is not 
the result of habits or accidents, but the gift of 
Nature herself ; the primary outfit for a Heroic 
Man in what sort soever. To the Poet, as to 
every other, we say first of all. See. If you ■'■ 
cannot do that, it is of no use to keep stringing- 
rhymes together, jingling sensibilities against ' 
each other, and name yourself a Poet ; there is 
no hope for you. If you can, there is, in prose '^ 
or verse, in action or speculation, all manner of 
hope. The crabbed old Schoolmaster used to 
ask, when they brought him a new pupil, " But 
are ye sure he's not a dunce ? " Why, really 
one might ask the same thing, in regard to every 
man proposed for whatsoever function ; and con- 
sider it as the one inquiry needful : Are ye sure 
he's not a dunce ? There is, in this world, no 
other entirely fatal person. 

Zbc 1bero as poet, 143 

For, in fact, I say the degree of vision that 
dwells in a man is a correct measure of the man. 
If called to define Shakspeare's faculty, I should 
say superiority of Intellect, and think I had in- 
cluded all under that. What indeed are faculties ? 
We talk of faculties as if they were distinct, things 
separable ; as if a man had intellect, imagination^ 
fancy, etc., as he has hands, feet and arms. 
That is a capital error. Then again, we hear of 
Oman's 'intellectual nature,' and of his ' moral 
nature,' as if these again were divisible, and 
existed apart. Necessities of language do per- 
haps prescribe such forms of utterance ; we must 
sp^ak, I am aware, in that way, if we are to speak 
at all. But words ought not to harden into things 
for us. It seems to me, our apprehension of 
this matter is, for most part, radically falsified 
thereby. We ought to know withal, and to keep 
forever in mind, that these divisions are at bot- 
tom but 7iaines ; that man's spiritual nature, the 
vital Force which dwells in him, is essentially 
one and indivisible ; that what we call imagina- 
tion, fancy, understanding, and so forth, are but 
different figures of the same Power of Insight, 
all ihdissolubly connected with each other, phys- 
iognomically relalted ; that if we knew one of 
them, we might know all of them. Morality it- 
self, what we call the moral quality of a man, what 
is this but another side of the one vital Force 
whereby he is and works ? All that a man does 
is physiognomical of him. You may see how a. 
man would fight, by the way in which he sings ;. 
his courage, or want of courage, is visible in the 
word he utters, in the opinion he has formed, na 

144 Xectures on IDeroes. 

less than in the stroke he strikes. He is one ; 
and preaches the same Self abroad in all these 

Without hands a man might have feet, and 
could still walk : but, consider it, — without mo- 
rality, intellect were impossible for him ; a thor- 
oughly immoral man could not know anything^ 
at all ! To know a thing, what we can call 
knowing, a man must first love the thing, sym- 
pathize with it : that is, be virtuously related to 
it. If he have not the justice to put down his own 
selfishness at every turn, the courage to stand 
by the dangerous-true at every turn, how shall 
he know ? His' virtues, all of them, will lie re- 
corded in his knowledge. Nature, with her truth, 
remains to the bad, to the selfish and the pusil- 
lanimous forever a sealed book : what such can 
know of Nature is mean, superficial, small ; for 
the uses of the. day merely. — But does not the 
very Fox know something of Nature ? Exactly 
so : it knows were the geese lodge ! The human 
Reynard, very frequent everywhere in the world, 
what more does he know but this and the like 
of this ? Nay, it should be considered too,, that 
if the Fox had not a ciertain vulpine morality^ he 
could not even know where the geese were, 9r 
get at the geese ! If he spent his time in splen- 
etic atrabiliar reflections on his own misery, his 
ill usage by Nature, Fortune and other Foxes, 
and so forth ; and had not courage, promptitude, 
practicality, and other suitable vulpine gifts and 
graces, he would catch no geese. We may say 
of the Fox too, that his morality and insight are 
of the same dimensions ; different faces of the 

Cbe Ibero as poet. 145 

same internal unity of vulpine life ! — These things 
are worth stating ; for the contrary of them acts 
with manifold very baleful perversion, in this 
time : what limitations, modifications they re- 
quire, your own candor will supply. 

If I say, therefore, that Shakspeare is the 
greatest of -Intellects, I have said all concerning 
him. But there is more in Shakspeare's intel- 
lect than we have yet seen. It is what I call an 
unconscious intellect ; there is more virtue in it 
than he himself is aware of. Novalis beautifully 
remarks of him, that those Dramas of his are 
Products of Nature too, deep as Nature herself. 
I find a great truth in this saying. Shakspeare's 
Art is not Artifice ; the noblest worth of it is not 
there by plan or pr.econtrivance. It grows-up 
from the deeps of Nature, through this noble 
sincere soul, who is a voice of Nature. The 
latest generations of men will find new mieanings 
in Shakspeare, new elucidations of their own 
human being ; ' new harmonies with the infinite 

* structure of the Universe ; concurrences with 
Mater ideas, affinities with the higher powers and 

* senses of man.' This well deserves meditating. 
It is Nature's hi^'hest reward to a true simple 
great soul, that he get thus to be a part of herself. 
Such a man's works, whatsoever he with utmost 
conscious exertion and forethought shall accom- 
plish, grow up withal ^///consciously, from the 
unknown deeps in him ; — as the oak-tree grows 
from the Earth's bosom, as the mountains and 
waters shape themselves ; with a symmetry 
grounded on Nature's own laws, conformable to 
all Truth whatsoever. How much in Shakspeare 

146 Xectures on Iberoes. 

lies hid ; his sorrows, his silent struggles known 
to himself ; much that was not known at all, not 
speakable at all : like roots, like sap and forces 
•working underground ! Speech is great ; but 
Silence is greater. 

Withal the joyful tranquillity of this man is 
notable. I will not blame Dante for his misery; 
it is as battle without victory ; but true battle, — ^ 
the first, indispensable thing. Yet I callrShak- 
speare greater than Dante in that he fought truly, 
and did conquer. Doubt it not, he had his own 
sorrows : those Soimets of his will even testify" 
expressly in what deep waters he had waded, 
and swum struggling for his life ; — as what man 
like him ever failed to have to do ? It seems to 
me a heedless notion, our common one, that he 
sat like a bird on the bough ; and sang forth 
free and offhand, never knowing the troubles of 
other men. Not so ; with no man is it so. How 
could a man travel forward from rustic deer- 
poaching to such tragedy-writing, and not fall-in 
with sorrows by the way ? Or, still better, how 
could a man delineate a Hamlet, a Coriolanus, 
a Macbeth, so many suffering heroic hearts, if 
his own heroic heart had never suffered ? — And 
now, in contrast with all this, observe his mirth- 
fulness, his genuine overflowing love of laughter ! 
You would say, in no point does he exaggerate 
buf only in laughter. Fiery objurgations, words 
that pierce and burn, are to be found in Shak- 
speare ; yet he is always in measure here ; never 
what Johnson would remark as a specially ' good 
hater,' But his laughter seems to pour from 
him in floods ; he heaps all manner of ridicu- 

^be Ibero as ipoet 147 

lous nicknames on the butt he is bantering, tum- 
bles and tosses him in all sorts of horse-play ; 
you would say, with his whole heart laughs. And 

^ then, if not always the finest, it is always a genial 
laughter. Not at mere weakness, at misery or 
poverty ; never. No man who ca?i laugh, what 
.,we call laughing, will laugh at these things. It 

[ is some poor character only desiring to laugh, 
and have the credit of wit, that does so. Laugh- 
ter, means sympathy; good laughter is not 'the 
crackling of thorns under the pot.' Even at 
Stupidity and pretension this Shakspeare does 
not laugh otherwise than genially. Dogberry 
and Verges tickle our very hearts ; and we dis- 
miss them covered with explosions of laughter : 
but we like the poor fellows only the better for 
our laughing ; and hope they will get on well 
there, and continue Presidents of the City-watch. 
Such laughter, like sunshine on the deep sea, is 
very beautiful to me. 

We have no room to speak of Shakspeare^s 

individual works ; though perhaps there is much 

still waiting to be said on that head. Had we, 

for instance, all his plays reviewed as Hainlet^ in 

Wilheh7i Meister, is ! A thing which might, one 

day, be done. August Wilhelm Schlegel has a 

remark on his Historical Plays, Henry Fifth and 

the others, which is worth remembering. He 

calls them a kind of National Epic. Marlborough, 

you recollect, said, he knew no English History 

but what he had learned from Shakspeare. There 

are really, if we look to it, few as memorableHis- 

tories. The great salient points are admirably 

148 Xectures on Iberoes. 

seized ; all rounds itself off, into a kind of rhyth« 
mic coherence ; it is, as Schlegel says, epic ; — as 
indeed all delineation by a great thinker will be. 
There are right beautiful things in those Pieces, 
which indeed together form one beautiful thing. 
That battle of Agincourt strikes me as one of the 
most perfect things, in its sort, we anywhere have 
of Shakspeare's. The description of the two 
hosts; the worn-out, jaded English; the dread 
hour, big with destiny, when the battle shall be- 
gin ; and then that deathless valor: "Ye good 
yeomen, whose limbs were made in England ! " 
There is a noble Patriotism in it, — far other than 
the ' indifference ' you sometimes hear ascribed to 
Shakspeare. A true English heart breathes, calm 
and strong, through the whole business ; not bois- 
terous, protrusive ; all the better for that. There is 
a sound in it like the ring of steel. This man too 
had a right stroke in him, had it come to that ! 

But I will say, of Shakspeare's works generally, 
that we have no full impress of him there ; even 
as full as we have of many men. His works are 
so many windows, through which we see a glimpse 
of the world that was in him. All his works seem, 
comparatively speaking, cursory, imperfect, writ- 
ten under cramping circumstances ; giving only 
here and there a note of the full utterance of the 
man. Passages there are that come upon you 
like splendor out of Heaven ; bursts of radiance, 
illuminating the very heart of the thing : you say, 
" That is true, spoken once and forever ; whereso-. 
ever and whensoever there is an open human soul, 
that will be recognized as true ! " Such bursts, how- 
ever, make us feel that the surrounding matter is 

^be 1bevo as poet. 149 

not radiant ; that it is, in part, temporary, conven- 
tional. Alas, Shakspeare had to write for the Globe 
Playhouse : his great soul had to crush itself, as it 
could, into that and no other mould. It was with 
him, then, as it is with us all. No man works save 
under conditions. The sculptor cannot set his own 
free Thought before us ; but his Thought as he 
could translate it into the stone that was given, wdth 
the tools that were given. Disjecta membra are 
all that we find of any Poet, or of any man. 

Whoever looks intelligently at this Shakspeare 
may recognize that he too was a Prophet^ in his 
way ; of an insight analogous to the Prophetic, 
though he took it up in another strain. Nature 
seemed to this man also divine ; ?/;2speakable, 
deep as Tophet, high as Heaven : ' We are such 
stuff as Dreams are made of 1 ' That scroll in 
Westminster Abbey, which few read with under- 
standing, is of the depth of any seer. But the 
man sang ; did not preach, except musically. We 
called Dante the melodious Priest of Middle-age 
Catholicism. May we not call Shakspeare the 
still more melodious Priest of a true Catholicism, 
the ' Universal Church ' of the Future and of all 
times ? No narrow superstition, harsh asceticism, 
intolerance, fanatical fierceness or perversion : a 
Revelation, so far as it goes, that such a thousand- 
fold hidden beauty and divineness dwells in all 
Nature ; which let all men worship as they can ! 
We may say without offence, that there rises a 
kind of universal Psalm out of this Shakspeare 
too ; not unfit to make itself heard among the 
still more sacred Psalms. Not in disharmony 


Xectures on Iberoes. 

with these, if we understood them, but in harmony! 
— I cannot call this Shakspeare a ' Sceptic,' as 
some do ; his indifference to the creeds and theo- 
logical quarrels of his time misleading them. 
No : neither unpatriotic, though he says little 
about his Patriotism ; nor sceptic, though he says 
little about his Faith. Such ' indifference ' was 
the fruit of his greatness withal : his whole heart 
was in his own grand sphere of worship (we may 
call it such) ; these other controversies, vitally 
important to other men, were not vital to him. 

But call it worship, call it what you will, is it 
not a right glorious thing, and set of things, this 
that Shakspeare has brought us ? For myself, I 
feel that there is actually a kind of sacredness in 
the fact of such a man being sent into this Earth. 
Is he not an eye to us all ; a blessed heaven-sent 
Bringer of Light ? — And, at bottom, was it not 
perhaps far better that this Shakspeare, everyway 
an unconscious man, was conscious of no Heavenly 
message ? He did not feel, like Mahomet, because 
he saw into those internal Splendors, that he 
specially was the ' Prophet of God : ' and was he 
not greater than Mahomet in that ? Greater ; and 
also, if we compute strictly, as we ^id in Dante's 
case, more successful. It was intrinsically an 
error, that notion of Mahomet's, of his supreme 
Prophethood ; and has come down to us inextri- 
cably involved in error to this day ; dragging along 
with it such a coil of fables, impurities, intoler- 
ances, as makes it a questionable step for me 
here and now to say, as I have done, that 
Mahomet was a true Speaker at all, and not rather 
an ambitious charlatan, perversity and simu- 

^be 1bero as poet. 151 

lacrum ; no Speaker, but a Babbler ! Even in 
Arabia, as I compute, Mahomet will have ex- 
haiusted himself and become obsolete, while this 
Shakspeare, this Dante may still be young •, — while 
this Shakespeare may still pretend to be a Priest 
of Mankind, of Arabia as of other places, for 
unlimited periods to come ! 

Compared with any speaker or singer one 
knows, even with yEschylus or Homer, why should 
he not, for veracity and universality, last like 
them ? He is sincere as they ; reaches deep down 
like them, to the universal and perennial. But 
as for Mahomet, I think it had been better for him 
not to be so conscious ! Alas, poor Mahomet ; all 
that vhe was conscious of was a mere error ; a 
futility and triviality, — as indeed such ever is. 
The truly great in him too was the unconscious : 
that he was a wild Arab lion of the desert, and 
did speak out with that great thunder-voice of his, 
not by words which he thought to be great, but 
by actions, by feelings, by a history which were 
great ! His Koran has become a stupid piece of 
prolix absurdity ; we do not believe, like him, that 
God wrote that ! The Great Man here too, as 
always, is a Force of Nature : whatsoever is truly 
great in him springs up from the z>?articulate 

Well : this is our poor Warwickshire Peasant, 
who rose to be Manager of a Playhouse, so that 
he could live without begging ; whom the Earl of 
Southampton cast some kind glances on ; whom 
Sir Thomas Lucy, many thanks to him, was for 
sendins: to the Treadmill ! We did not account 


Xectures on Iberocs. 

him a god, like Odin, while he dwelt with us ;-^ 
on which point there were much to be said. But 
I will say rather, or repeat : In spite of the sad 
state Hero-worship now lies in, consider what 
this Shakspeare has actually become among us. 
Which Englishman we ever made, in this land of 
ours, which million of Englishmen, would we not 
give up rather than the Stratford Peasant ? There 
is no regiment of highest Dignitaries that we 
would sell him for. He is the grandest thing we 
have yet done. For our honor among foreign 
nations, as an ornament to our English House- 
hold, what item is there that we would not sur- 
render rather than him ? Consider now, if they 
asked us. Will you give-up your Indian Empire or 
your Shakspeare, you English ; never have had 
any Indian Empire, or never have had any Shak- 
speare ? Really it were a grave question. Offi- 
cial persons would answer doubtless in official 
language ; but we, for our part too, should not we 
be forced to answer : Indian Empire, or no Indian 
Empire ; we cannot do without Shakspeare ! 
Indian Empire will go, at any rate, some day ; but 
this Shakspeare does not go, he lasts forever 
with us ; we cannot give-up our Shakspeare ! 

Nay, apart from spiritualities ; and considering 
him merely as a real, marketable, tangibly-useful 
possession. England, before long, this Island of 
ours, will hold but a small fraction of the English : 
in America, in New Holland, east and west to the 
very Antipodes, there will be a Saxondom cover- 
ing great spaces of the Qlobe. And now, what 
is it that can keep all these together into virtually 
one Nation, so that they do not fall-out and fight, 

^\)c Ibero as ipoet. 153 

but live at peace, in brotherlike intercourse, help- 
ing one another ? This is justly regarded as the 
greatest practical problem, the thing all manner 
of sovereignties and governments are here to 
accomplish : what is it that^vill accomplish this ? 
-•Acts of Parliament, administrative prime-minis- 
ters cannot. America is parted from us, so far 
as Parliament could part it. Call it not fantastic, 
for there is much reality in it : Here, I say, is an 
English King, whom no time or chance, Parlia- 
meijt or combination of Parliaments, can de- 
throne ! This King Shakspeare, does not he 
shine, in crowned sovereignty, over us all, as the 
noblest, gentlest, yet strongest of rallying-signs ; 
///destructible ; really more valuable in that point 
of view than any other means or appliance what- 
soever ? We can fancy him as radiant aloft over 
all the Nations of Englishmen, a thousand years 
hence. From Paramatta, from New York, where- 
soever, under what sort of Parish-Constable so- 
ever, English men and women are, they will say 
to one another : " Yes, this Shakspeare is ours ; 
we produced him, we speak and think by him ; 
we are of one blood and kind with him." The 
most common-sense politician, too, if he pleases, 
may think of that. 

Yes, truly, it is a great thing for a Nation that 
it get an articulate voice ; that it produce a man 
who will speak-forth melodiously what the heart 
of it means ! Italy, for example, poor Italy lies 
dismembered, scattered asunder, not appearing 
in any protocol or treaty as a unity at all ; yet the 
noble Italy is actually o/ie : Italy produced its 
Dante ; Italy can speak ! The Czar of all the 


Xecturcs on Iberoes. 

Russias, he is strong, with so many bayonets, 
Cossacks and cannons ; and does a great feat in 
keeping such a tract of Earth pohtically together ; 
but he cannot yet speak. Something great 
in him, but it is a dumb greatness. He has had 
no voice of genius, to be heard of all men and 
times. He must learn to speak. He is a great 
dumb monster hitherto. His cannons and Cos- 
sacks will all have rusted into nonentity, while 
that Dante's voice is still audible. The Nation 
that has a Dante is bound together as no dumb 
Russia can be. — We must here end what we had 
to say of the Hero-FoeU 


^Dc fbcxQ as priest, 155 



Our present discourse is to be of the Great Man 
as Priest. We have repeatedly endeavored t(? 
explain that all sorts of Heroes are intrinsically 
of the same material ; that given a great soul, 
open to the Divine Significance of Life, then there 
is given a man fit to speak of this, to sing of this, 
to fight and work for this, in a great, victorious, 
enduring manner; there is given a Hero, — the 
outward shape of whom will depend on the time 
and the environment he finds himself in. The 
Priest too, as I understand it, is a kind of 
Prophet ; in him too there is required to be a light 
of inspiration, as we must name it. He presides 
over the worship of the people; is the Uniter of 
them with the Unseen Hoi}-. He is the spiritual 
Captain of the people ; as the Prophet is their 
spiritual King with many captains : he guides 
them heavenward, by wise guidance through this 
Earth and its work. The ideal of him is, that he 
too be what we can call a voice from the unseer* 
Heaven ; interpreting, even as the Prophet did, 
and in a more familiar manner unfolding the 
same to men. The unseen Heaven, — the ' open 

156 Xectures on 1beroe6< 

secret of the Universe,' — which so few have an 
eye for ! He is the Prophet shorn of his more 
awful splendor ; burning with mild equable radi- 
ance, as the enlightener of daily life. This, I 
say, is the ideal of a Priest. So in old times; 
so in these, and in all times. One knows very well 
that, in reducing ideals to practice, great latitude 
of tolerance is needful 5 very great. But a Priest 
who is not this at all, who does not any longer 
aim or try to be this, is a character — of whom we 
had rather not speak in this place. 

Luther and Knox were by express vocation 
Priests, and did faithfully perform that function 
in its common sense. Yet it will suit us better 
here to consider them chiefly in their historical 
character, rather as Reformers than Priests. 
There have been other Priests perhaps equally 
notable, in calmer times, for doing faithfully the 
office of a Leader of Worship ; bringing down, 
by faithful heroism in that kind, a light from 
Heaven into the daily life of their people ; lead- 
ing them forward, as under God's guidance, in 
the way wherein they were to go. But when this 
same way was a rough one, of battle, confusion 
and danger, the spiritual Captain, who led through 
that, becomes, especially to us who live under the 
fruit of his leading, more notable than any other. 
He is the warfaring and battling Priest ; who led 
his people, not to quiet faithful labor as in 
smooth times, but to faithful valorous conflict, in 
times all violent, dismembered : a more perilous 
service, and a more memorable one, be it higher 
or not. These two men we will account our 
best Priests, inasmuch as they were our best Re- 

^be Ibcro as priest. 157 

formers. Nay I may ask, Is not every true Re- 
former, by the nature of him, a Priest first of all ? 
He appeals to Heaven's invisible justice against 
Earth's visible force ; knows that it, the invisible, 
is strong and alone strong. He is a believer in 
the divine truth of things ; a see?-^ seeing through 
the shows of things ; a worshipper, in one way 
or the other, of the divine truth of things ; a 
Priest, that is. If he be not first a Priest, he will 
never be good for much as a Reformer. 

Thus then, as we have seen Great Mefi, in 
various situations, building-up Religions, heroic 
Forms of human Existence of this world, Theories 
of Life worthy to be sung by a Dante, Practices 
of Life by a Shakspeare, — we are now to see the 
reverse process ; which also is necessary, which 
also may be carried-on in the Heroic manner. 
Curious how this should be necessary : yet neces- 
sary it is. The mild shining of the Poet's light 
has to give place to the fierce lightning of the 
Reformer : unfortunately the Reformer too is a 
personage that cannot fail in History ! The 
Poet indeed, with his mildness, what is he but 
the product and ultimate adjustment of Reform, 
or Prophecy, with its fierceness 'i No wild Saint 
Dominies and Thebaid Eremites, there had been 
no melodious Dante ; rough Practical Endeavor, 
Scandinavian and other, from Odin to Walter 
Raleigh, from Ulfila to Cranmer, enabled Shak- 
speare to speak. Nay the finished Poet, I remark 
sometimes, is a symptom that his epoch itself 
has reached perfection and is finished ; that 
before long there will be a new epoch, new 
Reformers needed. 

158 Xecturcs on Iberoes. 

Doubtless it were finer, could we go along 
always in the way of music ; be tamed and taught 
by our Poets, as the rude creatures were by their 
Orpheus of old. Or failing this rhythmic musical 
way, how good were it could we get so much as^ 
into the equable way ; I mean, \i peaceable Priests, 
reforming from day to day, would always suffice 
us! But it is not so; even this latter has not 
yet been realized. Alas, the battling Reformer 
too is, from time to time, a needful and inevitable 
phenomenon. Obstructions are never wanting.: 
the very things that were once indispensable 
furtherances become obstructions ; and need to 
,be shaken-off, and left behind us, — a business often 
of enormous difficulty. It is notable enough, 
surely, how a Theorem or spiritual Representation, 
so we may call it, which once took-in the whole 
Universe, and was completely satisfactory in all 
parts of it to the highly-discursive acute intellect 
of Dante, one of the greatest in the world, — had 
in the course of another century become dubi- 
table to common intellects ; become deniable ; 
and is now, to every one of us, flatly incredible, 
obsolete as Odin's Theorem ! To Dante, human 
Existence, and God's ways with men, were all 
well represented by those Malebolges, Purgato7-ios ; 
to Luther not well. How was this .'' Why could 
not Dante's Catholicism continue ; but Luther's 
Protestantism must needs follow ? Alas, nothing 
will conti?iue. 

I do not make much of ' Progress of the Species,* 
as handled in these times of ours ; nor do I think 
you would care to hear much about it. The talk 
on that subject is too often of the most extra v^- 

Cbe 1bero as iprieet 159 

gant, confused sort. Yet I may say, the fact 
itself seems certain enough ; nay we can trace- 
out the inevitable necessity of it in the nature of 
things. Every man, as I have stated somewhere, 
, is not only a learner but a doer : he learns with 
the mind given him what has been ; but with the 
same mind he discovers farther, he invents and 
devises somewhat of his own. Absolutely with- 
out originality there is no man. No man what- 
ever believes, or can believe, exactly what his 
grandfather believed : he enlarges somewhat, by 
fresh discovery, his view of the Universe, and 
consequently his Theorem of the Universe, — 
which is an infinite Universe, and can never be 
embraced wholly or finally" by any view or 
Theorem, in any conceivable enlargement : he 
enlarges somewhat, I say : finds somewhat that 
w^as credible to his grandfather incredible to him, 
false to him, inconsistent with some new thing 
he has discovered or observed. It is the history 
of every man ; and in the history of Mankind we 
see it summed-up into great historical amounts, 
— revolutions, new epochs. Dante's Mountain of 
Purgatory does not stand ' in the ocean of the 
other Hemisphere,' when Columbus has once 
sailed thither ! Men find no such thing extant 
in the other Hemisphere. It is not there. It 
must cease to be believed to be there. So with 
all beliefs whatsoever in this world, — all Systems 
of Belief, and Systems of Practice that spring 
from these. 

If we add now the melancholy fact, that when 
Belief waxes uncertain. Practice too becomes un- 
sound,, and errors, injustices and miseries every- 

i6o Xectures on Iberoes. 

where more and more prevail, we shall see material 
enough for revolution. At all turns, a man who 
will do faithfull}^, needs to believe firmly. If he 
have to ask at every turn the world's suffrage'; 
if he cannot dispense with the world's suffrage, and 
make his own suffrage serve, he is a poor eye- 
servant; the work committed to him will be mis- 
done. Every such man is a daily contributor to 
the inevitable downfall. Whatsoever work he 
does, dishonestly, with an eye to the outward 
look of it, is a new offence, parent of new misery 
to somebody or other. Offences accumulate till 
they become insupportable; and are then violent- 
ly burst through, cleared oif as by explosion. 
Dante's sublime Catholicism, incredible now in 
theory, and defaced still worse by faithless, doubt- 
ing and dishonest practice, has to be torn asunder 
by a Luther; Shakspeare's noble Feudalism, as- 
beautiful as it once looked and was, has to end 
in a French Revolution. The accumulation of 
offences is, as we say, too literally exploded^ 
blasted asunder volcanically ; and there are long 
troublous periods before matters come to a set- 
tlement again. 

Surely it were mournful enough to look only at 
this face of the matter, and find in all hurnan 
opinions and arrangements merely the fact that 
they were uncertain, temporary, subject to the 
law of death ! At bottom, it is not so : all 
death, here too we find, is but of the body, not of 
the essence or soul ; all destruction, by violent 
revolution or howsoever it be, is but new creationi 
on a wider scale. Odinism was Valor ; Christ- 
ianism was Humility^ a nobler kind of ValW. 

^be fbcxo as priest. i6i 

No thought that ever dwelt honestly as true in 
the heart of man but 7i:>as an honest insight into 
God's truth on man's part, and /las an essential 
truth in it which endures through all changes, an 
everlasting possession for us all. And, on the 
other hand, what a melancholy notion is that, 
which has to represent all men, in all countries 
and times except our own, as having spent their 
life in blind condemnable error, mere lost Pagans, 
Scandinavians, Mahometans, only that we might 
have the true ultimate knowledge ! All genera- 
tions of men were lost and wrong, only that this 
present little section of a generation might be 
saved and right. They all marched forward there, 
all generations since the beginning of the world, 
like the Russian soldiers into the ditch of 
Schweidnitz Fort, only to fill-up the ditch with 
their dead bodies, that we might march-over and 
take the place ! It is an incredible hypothesis. 

Such incredible hypothesis we have seen main- 
tained with fierce emphasis ; and this or the other 
poor individual man, with his sect of individual 
men, marching as over the dead bodies of all men, 
towards sure victory : but when he too, with his 
hypothesis and ultimate infallible credo, sank into 
the ditch, and became a dead body, w^hat was to ^ 
be said ?-r-Withal, it^.is an important fact ift the 
nature of man, that he tends to reckon his own 
insight as final, and goes upon it as such. He 
will always do it, I suppose, in one or the other 
way ; but It must be in some wider, wiser way 
than this. Are not all true men that Hve, or that 
ever lived, soldiers 'of the same army, enlisted, 
under Heaven's captaincy, to do battle against 

1 62 Xectures on Iberoce. 

the same enemy, the empire of Darkness and 
Wrong ? Why should we misknow one another, 
fight not against the enemy but against ourselves,. 
from mere difference of uniform ? All uniforms- 
shall be good, so they hold in them true valiant 
men. All fashions of arms, the Arab turban and 
swift scimetar, Thor's strong hammer smiting 
down Jotuns, shall be welcome. Luther's battle- 
voice, Dante's march-melody, all genuine things 
are with u^, not against us. We are all under 
one Captain, soldiers of the same host. — Let us 
now look a little at this Luther's fighting ; what 
kind of battle it was, and how he comported him- 
self in it. Luther too was of our spiritual Heroes ;, 
a Prophet to his country and time. 

As introductory to the whole, a remark about 
Idolatry will perhaps be in place here. One of 
Mahomet's characteristics, which indeed belongs 
to all Prophets, is unlimited implacable zeal 
against Idolatry. It is the grand theme of Proph- 
ets : Idolatry, the worshipping of dead Idols as 
the Divinity, is a thing they cannot away-with, but 
have to denounce continually, and brand with 
inexpiable reprobation ; it is the chief of all the 
sms they see done under the sun. This is worth 
noting. We will not enter here into the theo- 
logical question about Idolatry. Idol is Eidoloji^ 
a thing seen, a symbol. It is not God, but a 
Symbol of God ; and perhaps one may question 
whether any the most benighted mortal ever took 
it for more than a Symbol. I fancy, he did not 
think that the poor image his own hands had 
made was God; but that God was emblemed by 

^be tbero as iPnest. 163 

it, that God was in it some way or other. And 
now in this sense, one may ask, Is not all wor- 
ship whatsoever a worship by Symbols, by eidola^ 
or things seen ? Whether seen, rendered visible 
as an image or picture to the bodily eye ; or 
visible only to the inward eye, to the imagination, 
to the intellect : this makes a superficial, but no 
substantial difference. It is still a Thing Seen, 
significant of Godhead ; an Idol. The most rig- 
orous Puritan has his Confession of Faith, and 
intellectual Representation of Divine things, and 
worships thereby ; thereby is worship first made 
possible for him. All creeds, liturgies, religious 
forms, conceptions that fitly invest religious feel- 
ings, are in this sense eidola, things seen. All 
worship whatsoever must proceed by Symbols, by 
Idols : — we may say, all Idolatry is comparative, 
and the worst Idolatry is only more idolatrous. 

Where, then, lies the evil of it "^ Some Jatal 
evil must lie in it, or earnest prophetic men would 
not on all hands so reprobate it. Why is Idol- 
atry so hateful to Prophets ? It seems to me as 
if, in the worship of those poor wooden symbols, 
the thing that had chiefly provoked the Prophet, 
and filled his inmost soul with indignation and 
aversion, was not exactly what suggested itself to 
his own thought, and came out of him in words 
to others, as the thing. The rudest heathen thar 
worshipped Canopus, or the Caabah Black-Stone, 
he, as we saw, was superior to the horse that wor- 
shipped nothing at all ! Nay there was a kind 
of lasting merit in that poor act of his ; analogous 
to what is still meritorious in Poets .• recognition 
of a certain endless divine beauty and significance 

x64 Xectures on Iberoes. 

in stars and all natural objects whatsoever. Why 
should the Prophet so mercilessly condemn him ? 
The poorest mortal worshipping his Fetish, while 
his heart is full of it, may be an object of pity, of 
contempt and avoidance, if you will , but cannot 
surely be an object of hatred. Let his heart be 
honestly full of it, the whole space of his dark 
narrow mind illumined thereby ; in one word, let 
him entirely believe in his Fetish, — it will then be, 
I should say, if not well with him, yet as well as 
it can readily be made to be, and you will leave 
him alone, unmolested there. 

But here enters the fatal circumstance of Idol- 
atry, that, in the era of the Prophets, no man's 
mind is any longer honestly filled with his Idol 
or Symbol. Before the Prophet can arise who, 
seeing through it, knows it to be mere wood, 
many men must have begun dimly to doubt that 
it was little more. Condemnable Idolatry is- 
i7isincere Idolatry. Doubt has eaten-out the heart 
of it : a human soul is seen clinging spasmod- 
ically to an Ark of the Covenant, which it half- 
feels now to have become a Phantasm. This is 
one of the balefulest sights. Souls are no longer 
filled with their Fetish ; but only pretend to be , 
filled, and would fain make themselves feel that 
they are filled. " You do not believe," said 
Coleridge ; " you only believe that you believe." 
It is the final scene in all kinds of Worship and ^ 
Symbolism ; the sure symptom that death is now 
nigh. It is equivalent to what we call Formulism, 
and Worship of Formulas, in these days of ours. 
No more immoral act can be done by a human 
creature ; for it is the beginning of all immorality.. 

€bc Hbevo as ff>rlC0t. 165 

or rather it is the impossibility henceforth of any 
morality whatsoever : the innermost moral soul 
is paralyzed thereby, cast into fatal magnetic 
sleep ! Men are no longer sincere men. I do 
not wonder that the earnest man denounces this^ 
brands it, prosecutes it with inextinguishable 
aversion. He and it, all good and it, are at 
death-feud. Blamable Idolatry is Ca?it^ and even 
what one may call Sincere-Cant. Sincere-Cant : 
that is worth thinking of ! Every sort of Worship 
ends with this phasis. 

I find Luther to have been a Breaker of Idols, 
no less than any other Prophet. The wooden 
gods of the Koreish, made of timber and bees- 
wax, were not more hateful to Mahomet than 
Tetzel's Pardons of Sin, made of sheepskin and 
ink, were to Luther. It is the property of every 
Hero, in every time, in every place and situation, 
that he come back to reality ; that he stand upon 
things, and not shows of things. According as 
he loves, and venerates, articulately or with deep 
speechless thought, the awful realities of things, 
so will the hollow shows of things, however regular, 
decorous, accredited by Koreishes or Conclaves, 
be intolerable and detestable to him. Protestant- 
ism too is the work of a Prophet : the prophet- 
work of that sixteenth century. The first stroke 
of honest demolition to an ancient thing grown 
■false and idolatrous; preparatory afar off to a 
new thing, which shall be true, and authentically 
divine ! — 

^ At first view it might seem as if Protestantism 
'were entirely destructive to this that we call Hero- 
worship, and represent as the basis of all possible 

i66 Xectures on Iberoes. 

.good, religious or social, for mankind. One often 
hears it said that Protestantism introduced a new 
era, radically different froin any the world had 
ever seen before ; the era of 'private judgment/ 
as they call it. By this revolt against the Pope, 
every man became his own Pope ; and learnt, 
among other things, that he must never trust any 
Pope, or spiritual Hero-captain, any more !- 
Whereby, is not spiritual union, all hierarchy and 
subordination among men, henceforth an impos- 
sibilty ? So we hear it said. — Now I need not 
deny that Protestantism was a revolt against 
spiritual sovereignties, Popes and much else. 
Nay I will grant that English Puritanism, revolt 
against earthly sovereignties, was the second act 
of it ; that the enormous French Revolution itself 
was the third act, whereby all sovereignties 
earthly and spiritual were, as might seem, abol- 
ished oi" msde sure of abolition. Protestantism 
is the gr^nd root from which our whole subsequent 
European History branches out. For the spirit- 
ual will always body itself forth in the temporal 
history of men ; the spiritual is the beginning of 
the temporal. And now, sure enc\igh, the cry is 
everywhere for Liberty and Equality, Independ- 
ence and so forth ; instead of Kings, Ballot-boxes 
and Electoral suffrages : it seems made out that- 
any Hero-sovereign, or loyal obedience of men to 
a man, in things temporal or things spiritual, has 
passed away forever from the world. I should 
despair of the world altogether, if so. One of my 
"deepest convictions is, that it is not so. Without 
•sovereigns, true sovereigns, temporal and spiritual, 
I see nothing possible but an anarchy ; the hate- 

Cbc 1bcro as ipriest. i6;. 

fulest of things. But I find Protestantism, wliat 
ever anarchic democracy it have produced, to be. 
thp beginning of new genuine sovereignty and 
order. I find it to be a revolt against y^zA'^ sover- 
eigns ; the painful but indispensable first prepara- 
tive for ti'ue sovereigns getting place among us ! 
This is worth explaining a little. 

Let us remark, therefote, in the first place, that 
this of 'private judgment' is, at bottom, not a 
new thing in the world, but only new at that epoch 
of the world. There is nothing generically new 
or peculiar in the Reformation ; it was a return 
to Truth and Reality in opposition to Falsehood 
and Semblance, as all kinds of Improvement and 
genuine Teaching are and have been. Liberty 
of private judgment, if we will consider it, must 
at all times have existed in the world. Dante had 
not put-out his eyes, or tied shackles on himself ; 
he was at home in that Catholicism of his, a free- 
seeing soul in it, — if many a pooi Hogstraten^ 
Tetzel and Dr. Eck had now become slaves in it. 
Liberty of judgment .? No iron chain, or out- 
ward force of any kind, could ever compel the 
sopl of a man to believe or to disbelieve : it is 
(his own indefeasible light, that judgment of his ; 
he will -reign, and believe there, by the grace of 
God alone ! The sorriest sophistical Bellarmine, 
preaching sightless faith and passive obedience, 
must first, by some kind of convictiofi\ have ab- 
dicated his right to be convinced. His ' private 
judgment ' indicated that, as the advisablest step 
he could take. The right of private judgment will 
subsist, in full force, wherever true men subsist. 
A. true man believes with his whole judgment, with 

i68 Xcctures on iDcroes. 

all the illumination and discernment that is in 
him, and has always so believed. A false man, 
only struggling to ' believe that he believes,' will 
naturally manage it in some other way. Protest- 
antism said to this latter, Woe ! and to the 
former. Well done ! At bottom, it was no new 
saying ; it was a return to all old sayings that 
ever had been said. Be genuine, be sincere : that 
was, once more, the meaning of it. Mahomet 
believed with his whole mind ; Odin with his 
whole mind, — he, and all t}'ue Followers of Odin- 
ism. They, by their private judgment, had j 
* judged' — so. ' •, 

And now I venture to assert, that the exercis^" 
of private judgment, faithfully gone about, does 
by no means necessarily end in selfish independ- * 
ence, isolation ; but rather ends necessarily in 
the opposite of that. It is not honest inquiry • 
that makes anarchy ; but it is error, insincerity, 
half-belief and untruth that make it. A man pro- 
testing against error is on the way towards uniting 
himself wdth all men that believe in truth. There' 
is no communion possible among men who be- 
lieve only in hearsays. The heart of each is lying 
dead ; has no power of sympathy even with thi?igs, 
— or he would believe the??! and not hearsays. 
No sympathy even with things ; how much less 
with his fellow-men ! He cannot unite with men ; 
he is an anarchic man. Only in a world of 
sincere men is unity possible ; — and there, in the 
long run, it is as good as certai?i. 

For observe one thing, a thing too often left 
out of view, or rather altogether lost sight of, in 
this controversy : That it is not necessary a man 

Zbc "ibcro^^U ■^" • 169 

should himself have discovered the truth he is to 
believe in, and never so sificerely to believe in. 
A Great Man, we said, was always sincere, as the 
first condition of him. But a man need not be 
great in order to be sincere ; that is not the neces- 
sity of Nature and all Time, but only of certain 
corrupt unfortunate epochs of Time. A man can 
believe, and make his own, in the most genuine 
way, what he has received from another ; — and 
with boundless gratitude to that other ! The 
merit of originality is not novelty ; it is sincerity. 
The believing man is the original man ; what- 
soever he believes, he belieVes it for himself, not 
for another. Every son of Adam can become a 

.sincere man, an original man, in this sense ; no 
inortal is doomed to be an insincere man. Whole 
ages, what we call ages of Faith, are original ; 
air men in them, or the most of men in them, 
sincere. These are the great and fruitful ages ; 

"^every worker, in all spheres, is a worker not on 
semblance but on substance ; every work issues 
in a result : the general sum of such work is great ; 
for all of it, as genuine, tends towards one goal ; 
all of it is additive^ none of it subtractive. There 
is true union, true kingship, loyalty, all true and 
blessed things, so far as the poor Earth can 
produce blessedness for men. 

Hero-worship ? Ah me, that a man be self- 
subsistent, original, true, or what we call it, is 
surely the farthest in the world from indisposing 
him to reverence and believe other men's truth ! 
It only disposes, necessitates and invincibly com- 
pels him to ^/j-believe other men's dead formulas, 
hearsays and untruths. A man embraces truth 

170 xf£%ccixitcB on Iberoes. 

with hr^'^'fes open, and because his eyes are 
open : ^oes he need to shut them before he can 
love his Jeacher of truth ? He alone ca^ love, 
with ^ a right ^ gratitude and genuine loyalty of 
soul, tiie Hero- Teacher who has delivered him 
out of darkness into light. Is not such a one 
a true Hero and Serpent-queiler ; worthy o"f all 
reverence ! The black monster, Falsehood, qur 
one enemy in this world, lies prostrate by his 
valor; it was he that conquered the world for 
us ! — See, accordingly, was not Luther himself 
reverenced as a true Pope, or Spiritual Father^ 
i?ang verily such ? Napoleon, from amid bound' 
less revolt of Sansculottism, became a King. 
Hero-worship never dies, nor can die. Loyalty 
and Sovereignty are everlasting in the world : — 
and there is this in them, that they are grounded 
not on garnitures and semblances, but on realities 
and sincerities. Not by shutting your eyes, your 
* private judgment ; ' no, but by opening them, 
and by having something to see ! Luther's mes- 
sage was deposition and abolition to all false 
Popes and Potentates, but life and strength, 
though afar off, to new genuine ones. 

All this of Liberty and Equality, Electoral 
suffrages, Independence and so forth, we will 
take, therefore, to be a temporary phenomenon, 
by no means a final one. Though likely to last 
a long time, with sad enough embroilments for 
us all, we must welcome it, as the penalty of sins 
that are past, the pledge of inestimable benefits 
that are coming. In all ways, it behoved men to 
quit simulacra and return to fact ; cost what it 
might, that did behove to be done. With spurious 

Popes, and Believers having no private judgment, 
— quacks pretending to command over dupes,^ 
what can you do ? Misery and mischief only. 
V6u caiinot make an association out of insincere 
men ; you cannot build an edifice except by plum- 
met and level, — at rig/i[es to one another ! In 
all this wild revolutionary work, from" Protest- 
antism downwards, I see the blessedest result 
preparing itself : not abolition of Hero-worship, but 
rather what I would call a whole World of Heroes. 

w If Hero mean sincere man, why may not every one 
of us be a Hero ? A world all sincere, a believing 

' world : the like has been ; the like will again be, 
• — cannot help being. That were the right sort 
of Worshippers for Heroes : never could the 
truly Better be so reverenced as where all were 
True and Good ! — But we must hasten to Luther 
and his Life. 

Luther's birthplace was Eisleben in Saxony; he 
came into the world there on the loth of November, 
1483. It was an accident that gave this honor to 
Eisleben. His parents, poor mine-laborers in a 
village of that region, named Mohra, had gone to 
the Eisleben Winter-Fair : in the tumult of this 
scene the Frau Luther was taken with travail, 
found refuge in some poor house there, and 
the boy she bore was named Martin Luther. 
Strange enough to reflect upon it This poor 
Frau Luther, she had gone with her husband to 
make her small merchandisings • perhaps to sell 
the lock of yarn she had been spinning, to buy the 
small winter-necessaries for her narrow hut or 
household ; in the whole world, that day, there 

172 ILecturcs on tbecoes. 

was not a more entirely unimportant-looking paii 
of people than this Miner and his Wife. And 
vet what were all Emperors, Popes and Potentates, 
m comparison ? There was born here, once more, 
a Mighty Man; whose light was to flame^as 
the beacon over long centuries and epochs of 
the world ; the whole world and its history was 
waiting for this man. It is strange, it is great. 
It leads us back to another Birth-hour, in a still 
meaner environment. Eighteen Hundred years 
ago, — of which it is fit, that we say nothing, that 
we think only in silence ; for what words are 
there ! The Age of Miracles past ? The Age of 
Miracles is forever here ! — 

I find it altogether suitable to Luther's function 
in this Earth, and doubtless wisely ordered to that 
end by the Providence presiding over him and us 
and all things, that he was born poor, and brought- 
up poor, one of the poorest of men. He had to 
beg, as the school-children in those times did ; 
singing for alms and bread, from door to door. 
Hardship, rigorous Necessity was the poor boy's 
companion ; no man nor no thing would put-on a 
false face to flatter Martin Luther. Among things, 
not among the shows of things, had he to grow. 
A boy of rude figure, yet with weak health, with 
his large greedy soul, full of all faculty and sen- 
sibility, he suffered greatly. But it was his task 
to get acquainted with realities, and keep ac- 
quainted with them, at whatever cost : his task 
was to bring the whole world back to reality^' for 
it had dwelt too long with semblance ! A youth 
nursed-up in wintry whirlwinds, in desolate dark- 
ness and difficulty, that he may step-forth at last 

^be tbero as priest. 173 

from his stormy Scandinavia, strong as a true 
man, as a god : a Christian Odui, — a right Thor 
once more, with his thunder-hammer, to smite 
asunder ugly enough Jotuns and Giant-monsters ! 
Perhaps the turning incident of his Ufe, we may 
fancy, was that death of his friend Alexis, by 
lightning, at the gate of Erfurt. Luther had 
struggled-up through boyhood, better and worse ; 
displaying, in spite of all hindrances, the largest 
intellect, eager to learn : his father judging doubt- 
less that he might promote himself in the world, 
set him upon the study of Law. This was the 
path to rise ; Luther, with little will in it either 
way, had consented : he was now nineteen years 
of age. Alexis and he had been to see the old 
Luther people at Mansfeldt ; were got back again 
near Erfurt, when a thunderstorm came on ; the 
bolt struck Alexis, he fell dead at Luther's feet. 
What is this Life of ours t — gone in a moment, 
burnt-up like a scroll, into the blank Eternity ! 
What are all earthly preferments. Chancellor- 
ships, Kingships ? They lie shrunk together — 
there ! The Earth has opened on them ; m a 
moment they are not, and Eternity is. Luther, 
struck to the heart, determined to devote himself 
to God and God's service alone. In spite of all 
dissuasions from his father and others, he became 
a Monk in the Augustine Convent at Erfurt. 

This was probably the first light-point in the 
history of Luther, his purer will now first deci- 
^ sively uttering itself; but, for the present it was 
V still as one light-point in an element all of dark- 
ness. He says he was a pious monk, ich bin 
^^r? frommer Monch gewesen ; faithfully, painfully 

174 Xectures on Iberoes. 

struggling to work-out the truth of this high act 
of his ; but it was to little purpose. His misery- 
had not lessened ; had rather, as it were, increased 
into infinitude. The drudgeries he had to do, as 
novice in his Convent, all sorts of slave-work, 
were not his grievance : the deep earnest soul of 
the man had fallen into all manner of black 
scruples, dubitations , he believed himself likely 
to die soon, and far worse than die. One hears 
with a new interest for poor Luther that, at this 
time, he lived in terror of the unspeakable misery ; 
fancied that he was doomed to eternal reprobation. 
Was it not the humble sincere nature of the man ? 
What was he, that he should be raised to Heaven ! 
He that had known only misery, and mean 
slavery : the news was too blessed to be credible. 
It could not become clear to him how, by fasts, 
vigils, formalities and mass-work, a man's soul 
could be saved. He fell into the blackest wretch- 
edness ; had to wander staggering as on the verge 
of bottomless Despair. 

It must have been a most blessed discovery, 
that of an old Latin Bible which he found in the 
Erfurt Library about this time. He had never 
seen the Book before. It taught him another 
lesson than that of fasts and vigils. A brother 
monk too, of pious experience^ was helpful. 
Luther learned now that a man was saved not by 
singing masses, but by the infinite grace of God : 
a more credible hypothesis. He gradually got 
himself founded, as on the rock. No wonder he 
should venerate the Bible, which had brought tKis 
blessed help to him. He prized it as' the Wor4 
of the Highest must be prized by such a man. 

Zbc Ibero as {priest. 175 

He determined to hold by that ; as through life 
and to death he firmly did. 

This, then, is his deliverance from darkness, his 
final triumph over darkness, what we call his con- 
version ; for himself the most important of all 
epochs. That he should now grow daily in peace 
and' clearness ; that, unfolding now the great 
talents and virtues implanted in him, he should 
rise to importance in his Convent, in his country, 
and be found more and more useful in all honest 
business of life, is a natural result. He was sent 
on missions by his Augustine Order, as a man of 
talent and fidelity fit to do their business well : 
the Elector of Saxony, Friedrich, named the Wise, 
a truly wise and just prince, had cast his e3-e on 
him as a valuable person ; made him Professor in 
his new University of Wittenberg, Preacher too 
at Wittenberg ; in both which capacities, as in all 
duties he did, this Luther, in the peaceable sphere 
of common life, was gaining more and more 
esteem with all good men. 

It was in his twenty-seventh year that he first 
saw Rome ; being sent thither, as I said, on mis- 
sion from his Convent. Pope Julius the Second, 
and what was going-on at Rome, must have filled 
the mind of Luther with amazement. He had 
come as to the Sacred City, throne of God's 
Highpriest on Earth ; and he found it — what we 
know ! Many thoughts it must have given the 
man ; many which we have no record of, which 
p,erhaps he did not himself know how to utter. 
.This Rome, this scene of false priests, clothed 
iiot in the beauty of holiness, but in far other 
vestmje, is /a/se : but what is it to Luther ? A 

176 iecturei on Iberoes. 

mean man he, how shall he reform a woild*i 
That was far from his thoughts. A humble, 
solitary man, why should he at all meddle with 
the world ? It was the task of quite higher men 
than he. His business was to guide his own 
footsteps wisely through the wDrld. Let him do 
his own obscure duty in it well ; the rest, horrible 
and dismal as it looks, is in God's hand, not in j,iis. 
It is curious to reflect what might have been 
the issue, had Roman Popery happened to pass 
this Luther by ; to go on in its great wasteftil" 
orbit, and not come athwart his little path, and 
force him to assault it ! Conceivable enough 
that, in this case, he might have held his peace 
about the abuses of Rome ; left Providence, and 
God on high, to deal with them ! A modest 
quiet man ; not prompt he to attack irreverently 
persons in authority. His clear task, as I say, 
was to do his own duty ; to walk wisely in this 
world of confused wickedness, and save his own 
soul alive. But the Roman Highpriesthood did 
come athwart him : afar off at Wittenberg he, 
Luther, could not get lived in honesty for it ; he 
remonstrated, resisted, came to extremity ; was 
struck-at, struck again, and so it came to wager 
of battle between them ! This is worth attend- 
ing to in Luther's history. Perhaps no man of. 
so humble, peaceable a disposition ever filled 
the world with contention. We cannot but see 
that he would have loved privacy, quiet diligence 
in the shade ; that it was against his will he ever 
became a notoriety. Notoriety : what would 
that do for him ? The goal of his march through 
this world was the Infinite Heaven ; an indubi- 

^be 1bero as priest. 177 

table goal for him : in a few years, he should 
either have attained that, or lost it forever ! We 
will say nothing at all, I think, of that sorrow- 
fulest of theories, of its being some mean shop- 
keeper grudge, of the Augustine Monk against 
the Dominican, that first kindled the wrath of 
Luther, and produced the Protestant Refor- 
mation. We will say to the people who maintain 
it, if indeed, any such exist now : Get first into 
the sphere of thought by which it is so much as 
possible to judge of Luther, or of any man like 
Luther, otherwise than distractedly ; we may then 
begin arguing with you. 

Tl;ie Monk Tetzel, sent out carelessly in the 
way of trade, by Leo Tenth, — who merely wanted 
to raise a little money, and for the rest seems to 
have been a Pagan rather than a Christian, so far 
as he was anything, arrived at Wittenberg, and 
drove his scandalous trade there. Luther's flock 
bought Indulgences ; in the confessional of his 
Church, people pleaded to him that they had 
already got their sins pardoned. Luther, if he 
would not be found wanting at his own post, a false 
sluggard and coward at the very centre of the 
little space of ground that was his own and no 
other man's, had to step-forth against Indulgences, 
and declare aloud that they were a futility and 
sorrowful mockery, that no man's sins, could be 
pardoned by them. It was the beginning of the 
whole Reformation. We know how it went ; 
forward from this first public challenge of Tetzel, 
on the last day of October 15 17, through remon- 
strance and argument ; — spreading ever, wider, ris- 
ing ever higher-, till it became unquenchable, and 

1 78 2.cctures on Toeroes. 

enveloped all the world. Luther's heart's-desire 
was to have this grief and other griefs amended ; 
his thought was still far other than that of intro- 
ducing separation in the Church, or revolting 
against the Pope, Father of Christendom. — The 
elegant Pagan Pope cared little about this Monk 
and his doctrines ; wished, however, to have done 
with the noise of him : in a space of some three 
years, having tried various softer methods, he 
thought good to end it hy Jire. He dooms the 
Monk's writings to be burnt by the hangman, and 
his body to be sent bound to Rome, — probably for 
a similar purpose. It was the way they had ended 
with Huss, with Jerome, the century before. A 
short argument, fire. Poor Huss : he came to 
that Constance Council, with all imaginable prom- 
ises and safe-conducts ; an earnest, not rebel- 
lious kind of man : they laid him instantly in a 
stone dungeon 'three-feet wide, six-feet high, 
seven-feet long ; ' buj-iit the true voice of him out 
of this world ; choked it in smoke and fire. 
That was not well done ! 

I, for one, pardon Luther for now altogether 
revolting against the Pope. The elegant Pagan, 
by this fire-decree of his, had kindled into noble 
just wrath the bravest heart then living in this 
world. The bravest, if also one of the humblest, 
peaceablest ; it was now kindled. These words 
of mine, words of truth and soberness, aiming 
faithfully, as human inability would allow, to 
promote God's truth on Earth, and save men's 
souls, you, God's vicegerent on earth, answer 
them by the hangman and fire ? You will burn 
me and them, for answer to the God's-message 

^be Ibcro as ipncst. 179 

they strove to bring you ? Yojt are not God's 
-vicegerent ; you are another's than his, I think ! 
I take your Bull, as an emparchmented Lie, and 
-burn //. You will do what you see good next : 
this is what I do. — It was on the loth of December 
1520, three years after the beginning of the 
business, that Luther, ' with a great concourse of 
people,' took this indignant step of burning the 
Pope's fire-decree ' at the Elster-Gate of \Vitten= 
t>erg.' Wittenberg looked on ' with shoutings ; ' 
the whole world was looking on. The Pope 
should not have provoked that ' shout ! It was 
the shout of the awakening of nations. The 
quiet Oerman heart, modest, patient of much, 
had at length got more than it could bear. 
Formulism, Pagan Popeism, and other Falsehood 
and corrupt Semblance had ruled long enough : 
and here once more was a man found who durst 
tell all men that God's-world stood not on sem- 
blances but on realities ; that Life was a truth, 
and not a lie ! 

At bottom, as w^as said above, we are to consider 
Luther as a Prophet Idol-breaker ; a bringer-back 
of men to reality. It is the function of great men 
and teachers. Mahomet said. These idols of 
yours are wood ; you put wax and oil on them, 
the flies stick on them : they are not God, I tell 
you, they are black wood ! Luther said to the 
Pope, This thing of yours that you call a Pardon 
of Sins, it is a bit of rag-paper with ink. It is 
nothing else ; it, and so much like it, is nothing 
else. God alone can pardon sins. Popeship, 
spiritual Fatherhood of God's Church, is that a 
-vain semblance, of cloth and parchment : It u 

i8o Xectures on l)ecocs. 

an awful fact. God's Church is not a semblance^ 
Heaven and Hell are not semblances. I stand 
on this, since you drive me to it. Standing on 
this, I a poor German Monk am stronger than 
you all. I stand solitary, friendless, but on 
God's Truth ; you with your tiaras, triple-hats, 
with your treasuries and armories, thunders 
spiritual and temporal, stand on the Devil's Lie, 
and are not so strong ! — 

The Diet of Worms, Luther's appearance there 
on the 17th of April 152 1, may be considered as 
the greatest scene in Alodern European History: 
the point, indeed, from which the Xvhole^sub- 
sequent history of civilization takes its rise. 
After multiplied negotiations, disputations, it 
had come to this. The young Emperor Charles 
Fifth, with all the Princes of Germany, Papal 
nuncios, dignitaries spiritual and temporal, are 
assembled there : Luther is to appear and answer 
for himself, whether he will recant or not. The 
world's pomp and power sits there on this hand : 
on that, stands-up for God's Truth, one man, the 
poor miner Hans Luther's Son. Friends had 
reminded him of Huss, advised him not to go ; 
he w^ould not be advised. A large company of 
friends rode-out to meet him, with still more 
earnest warnings ; he answered, " Were there as 
many Devils hi Worms as there are roof-tiles, I 
would on." I'he people, on the morrow, as he 
went to the Ha'l of the Diet, crowded the windows 
and housetops, some of them calling out to him, 
in solemn wo'ds, not to recant: "Whosoever 
denieth me before men ! " they cried to him,— 
as in a kind oi solemn petition and adjuration. 

Cbe fbcvo as ipriest. i8i 

Was it not in reality our petition too, the petition 
of the whole world, lying in dark bondage of soul, 
paralyzed under a black spectral Nightmare and 
triple-hatted Chimera calling itself Father in God, 
and what not : " Free us ; it rests with thee ; 
desert us not ! " 

Luther did not desert us. His speech, of two 
hours, distinguished itself by its respectful, wise 
and honest tone ; submissive to whatsoever could 
lawfully claim submission, not submissive to any 
more than that. His writings, he said, were partly 
his own, partly derived from the Word of God. 
As to what was his own, human infirmity entered 
into it ; unguarded anger, blindness, many things 
doubtless wdiich it were a blessing for him could 
he abolish altogether. But as to what stood on 
sound truth and the Word of God, he could not 
recant it. How could he ? " Confute me," he 
concluded, " by proofs of Scripture, or else by 
plain just arguments : I cannot recant otherwise. 
For it is neither safe nor prudent to do aught 
against conscience. Here stand I ; I can do no 
other : God assist me ! " — It is, as we say, the 
greatest moment in the Modern History of Men. 
English Puritanism, England and its Parliaments, 
Americas, and vast w'ork these two centuries ; 
French Revolution, Europe and its work every- 
Avhere at present : the germ of it all lay there : 
had Luther in that moment done other, it had all 
heen otherwise ! The European World was ask- 
ing him : Am I to sink ever lower into falsehood, 
stagnant putrescence, loathsome accursed death; 
or, with whatever paroxysm, to cast the falsehoods 
«ut of me, and be curea and live .'' — 


Xectures on Iberoes. 

Great wars, contentions and disunion followed 
out of this Reformation ; which last down to our 
day, and are yet far from ended. Great talk and 
crimination has been made about these. They are 
lamentable, undeniable ; but after all, what has 
Luther or his cause to do with them ? It seems 
strange reasoning to charge the Reformation with 
all this. When Hercules turned the purifying 
river into King Augeas's stables, I have no doubt 
the confusion that resulted was considerable all 
around : but I think it was not Hercules's blame ; 
it was some other's blame ! The Reformation 
might bring what results it liked when it came^ 
but the Reformation simply could not help com- 
ing. To all Popes and Popes' advocates, expos-' 
tulating, lamenting and accusing, the answer of 
the world is : Once for all, your Popehood has 
become untrue. No matter how good it was, 
how good you say it is, we cannot believe it ; the 
light of our whole mind, given us to walk-by from 
Heaven above, finds it henceforth a thing unbe- 
lievable. We will not believe it, we will not try 
to believe it, — we dare not ! The thing is untrue ; 
we were traitors against the Giver of all Truth, if 
we durst pretend to think it true. Away with it ; 
let whatsoever likes come in the place of it : with 
// we can have no farther trade ! — Luther and his 
Protestantism is not responsible for wars ; the 
false Simulacra that forced him to protest, they 
are responsible. Luther did what every ^iian that 
God has made has not only the right, biit lies 
under the sacred duty, to do : anwered a False- 
hood when it questioned him, Dost thou believe. 
me ? — No ! — At what cosf soever, without count-^ 

<ibc 1bero as ipnest. 183 

ing of costs, this thing behoved to be done. 
Union, organization spiritual and material, a far 
nobler than any Popedom or Feudalism in their 
truest days, I nev^er doubt, is coming for the 
world ; sure to come. But on Fact alone, not on 
Semblance and Simulacrum, will it be able either 
to come, or to stand when come. With union 
grounded on falsehood, and ordering us to speak 
and act lies, we will not have anything to do. 
Peace .'' A brutal lethargy is peaceable, the noi- 
some grave is peaceable. We hope for a living 
peace, not a dead one ! 

And yet, in prizing justly the indispensable 
blessings of the New, let us not be unjust to the 
Old. The Old zaas true, if it no longer is. In 
Dante's days it needed no sophistry, self-blinding 
or other dishonesty, to get itself reckoned true. 
It was good then ; nay there is in the soul of it a 
deathless good. The cry of ' No Popery ' is foolish 
enough in these days. The speculation that 
Popery is on the increase, building new chapels 
and so forth, may pass for one of the idlest ever 
started. Very curious.: to count-up a few Popish 
chapels, listen to a few Protestant logic-chop- 
pings, — to much dull-droning drowsy inanity that 
still calls itself Protestant, and say : See, Protes- 
tantism is ^md ; Popeism is more alive than it, 
will be alive after it ! — Drowsy inanities, not a 
few, that call themselves Protestant are dead ; 
\i\x\. Protestantism has not died yet, that I hear of! 
Protestantism, if we will look, has in these days 
produced its Goethe, its Napoleon ; German 
Literature and the French Revolution ; rather 
considerable signs of life ! Nay, at bottom, what 

184 Xectures on Tocvocz. 

else is alive di^f Protestantism ? The life of most 
else that one meets is a galvanic one merely, — not 
a pleasant, not a lasting sort of life ! 

Popery can build new chapels ; welcome to do 
so, to all lengths. Popery cannot come back, 
any more than Paganism can, — which also still 
lingers in some countries. But, indeed, it is with 
these things, as with the ebbing of the sea : you 
look at the waves oscillating hither, thither on the 
beach ; for minutes you cannot tell how it is going ; 
look in half an hour where it is, — look in half a. 
century where your Popehood is ! Alas, would 
there were no greater danger to our Europe than 
the poor old Pope's revival ! Thor may as soon 
try to revive. — And withal this oscillation has 
a meaning. The poor old Popehood will not die 
away entirely, as Thor has done, for some time 
yet ; nor ought it. We may say, the Old never 
dies till this happen. Till all the soul of good that 
was in it have got itself transfused into the 
practical New. While a good work remains capa- 
ble of being done by the Romish form ; or, what 
is inclusive of all, while 2i pious life remains capa- 
ble of being led by it, just so long, if we consider, 
will this or the other human soul adopt it, go 
about as a living witness of it. So, long it will 
obtrude itself on the eye of us who reject it, till 
we in our practice too have appropriated what- 
soever of truth was in it. Then, but also not till 
then, it will have no charm more for any man. 
It lasts here for a purpose. Let it last as long as 
it can. — 

Of Luther I will add now, in reference to all 

Zbc 1bero as priest. 185 

these wars and bloodshed, the noticeable fact that 
none of them began so long as he continued living. 
The controversy did not get to fighting so long 
as he was there. To me it is proof of his great- 
ness in all senses, this fact. How seldom do we 
find a man that has stirred-up some vast 
commotion, who does not himself perish, svvept- 
away in it ! Such is the usual course of revolu- 
tionists. Luther continued, in a good degree, 
sovereign of this greatest revolution ; all Protest- 
ants, of what rank or function soever, looking 
much to him for guidance : and he held it peace- 
able, continued firm at the centre of it. A man 
to do this must have a kingly faculty : he must 
have the gift to discern at all turns where the 
true heart of the matter lies, and to plant himself 
courageously on that, as a strong true man, that 
other true men may rally round him there. He 
will not continue leader of men otherwise. 
Luther's clear deep force of judgment, his force 
of all sorts, oi silence, of tolerance and moderation, 
among others, are very notable in these circum- 

Tolerance, I say ; a very genuine kind of toler- 
ance : h& distinguishes what is essential, and 
what is not ; the unessential may go very much 
as it will. A complaint comes to him that such 
and such a Reformed Preacher ' will not preach 
without a cassock.' Well, answers Luther, what 
harm will a cassock do the man ? ' Let him have 
a cassock to preach in ; let him have three cas- 
socks if he find benefit in them ! ' His conduct 
in the matter of Karlstadt's wild image-breaking; 
^f the Anabaptists ; of the Peasants' War, shows 

1 86 Xectures on Iberoes. 

a noble strength, very different from spasmodic 
violence. With sure prompt insight he discrim- 
inates what is what : a strong just man, he speaks 
forth what is the wise course, and all men follow 
him in that. Luther's Written Works give similar 
testimony of him. The dialect of these specula- 
tions is now grown obsolete for us ; but one still 
reads them with a singular attraction. And indeed 
the mere grammatical diction is still legible 
enough ; Luther's merit in literary history is of 
the greatest ; his dialect became the language of 
all writing. They are not well written, these 
Four-and-twenty Quartos of his ; written hastily, 
with quite other than literary objects. But in no 
Books have I found a more robust, genuine, I will 
say noble faculty of a man than in these. A 
rugged honesty, homeliness, simplicity ; a rugged 
sterling sense and strength. He flashes-out 
illumination from him ; his smiting idiomatic 
phrases seem to cleave into the very secret of the 
matter. Good humor too, nay tender affection, 
nobleness, and depth : this man could have been 
a Poet too ! He had to tvork an Epic Poem, not 
write one. I call him a great Thinker ; as indeed 
his greatness of heart already betokens that. 

Richter says of Luther's words, ' his words are 
half-battles.' They may be called sg. The 
essential quality of him was, that he could fight 
and conquer ; that he was a right piece of human 
Valor. No more valiant man, no mortal heart 
to be called brave7% that one has record of, ever 
lived in that Teutonic Kindred, whose character 
is valor. His defiance of the ' Devils ' in Worms 
was not a mere boast, as the like might be 

Cbe Ibcro as priest. 187 

if now spoken. It was a faith of Luther's that 
there were Devils, spiritual denizens of the Pit, 
continually besetting men. Many times, in his 
writings, this turns-up ; and a most small sneer 
has been grounded on it by some. In the room 
of the Wartburg, where he sat translating the 
Bible, they still show you a black spot on the wall ; 
the strange memorial of one of these conflicts. 
Luther sat translating one of the Psalms ; he. 
was worn-down with long labor, with sickness, 
abstinence from food : there rose before him 
some hideous indefinable Image, which he took 
for the Evil One, to forbid his work : Luther 
started-up, with fiend-defiance ; flung his inkstand 
at the spectre, and it disappeared ! The spot 
still remains there ; a curious monument of several 
things. Any apothecary's apprentice can now 
tell us what we are to think of this apparition, in 
a scientific sense : but the man's heart that dare 
rise defiant, face to face, against Hell itself, can 
give no higher proof of fearlessness. The thing 
he will quail before exists not on this Earth or 
under it. — Fearless enough ! ' The Devil is aware,' 
writes he on one occasion, ' that this does not 
' proceed out of fear in me. I have seen and 
'uefied innumerable Devils. Duke .George,' of 
Leipzig, a great enemy of his, ' Duke George is 
' not equal to one Devil,' — far short of a Devil ! 
' If I had business at Leipzig, I would ride 
' into Leipzig, though it rained Duke-Georges for 
' nine days running.' What a reservoir of Dukes 
to ride into ! — 

At the same time, they err greatly who imagine 
that this man's courage was ferocity, mere coarse 

£88 Xectures on Iberoes. 

disobedient obstinacy and savagery, as many do. 
Far from that. There may be an absence of fear 
which arises from the absence of thought or 
affection, from the presence of hatred and stupid 
fury. We do not value the courage of the tiger 
highly ! With Luther it was far otherwise ; no 
accusation could be more unjust than this of 
mere ferocious violence brought against him. A 
most gentle heart withal, full of pity and love, as 
indeed the truly valiant heart ever is. The tiger 
before a strange?' foe — flies i the tiger is not what 
we call valiant, only fierce and cruel. I know few 
things more touching than those soft breathings 
of affection, soft as a child's or a mother's, in this 
great wild heart of Luther. So honest, unadul- 
terated with any cant ; homely, rude in their 
utterance ; pure as water welling from the rock. 
What, in fact, was all that downpressed mood of 
despair and reprobation, w^hich we saw in l^is 
youth, but the outcome of preeminent thoughtful 
gentleness, affections too keen and fine ? It is 
the course such men as the poor Poet Cowper 
fall into. Luther to a slight observer might have 
seemed a timid, weak man ; modesty, affectionate 
shrinking tenderness the chief distinction of him. 
It is a noble valor which is roused in a' heart 
like this, once stirred-up into defiance, all kindled 
into a heavenly blaze. 

In Luther's 7 able-Talk, a posthumous Book of 
anecdotes and sayings collected by his friends, the 
most interesting now of all the Books proceeding 
from him, we have many beautiful unconscious 
displays of the man, and what sort of nature he 
had. His behavior at the deathbed of his little 

^be Ibero as jpriest. 189- 

Daughter, so still, so great and loving, is among 
the most affecting things. He is resigned that 
his little Magdalene should die, yet longs inex- 
pressibly that she might live ; — follows, in awe- 
struck thought, the flight of her little soul through 
those unknown realms. Awestruck ; most heart- 
felt, we can see ; and sincere, — for after all dog- 
matic creeds and articles, he feels what nothing 
it is that we know, or can know : His little Mag- 
dalene shall be with God, as God wills ; for Luther 
too that is all ; Islam is all. 

Once, he looks-out from his solitary Patmos, 
the Castle of Coburg, in the middle of the night : 
The great vault of Immensity, long flights of 
clouds sailing through it, — dumb, gaunt, huge : — 
who supports all that ? " None ever saw the 
pillars of it ; yet it is supported." God supports 
it. We must know that God is great, that God is 
good ; and trust, where we cannot see. — Return- 
ing home from Leipzig once, he is struck by the 
beauty of the harvest-fields ; How it stands, that 
golden yellow corn, on its fair taper stem, 
its golden head bent, all rich and waving 
there, — the meek Earth, at God's kind bidding, 
has produced it once again ; the bread of 
man ! — In the garden at Wittenberg one even- 
ing at sunset, a little bird has perched for the- 
night : That little bird, says Luther, above it are 
the stars and deep Heaven of worlds ; yet it has 
folded its little wings ; gone trustfully to rest there 
as in its home : the Maker of it has given it too 

a home ! Neither are mirthful turns wanting : 

there is a great free human heart in this man. 
The common speech of him has a rugged noble- 

I90 Xectures on Iberoes. 

ness, idiomatic, expressive, genuine ; gleams here 
and there with beautiful poetic tints. One feels 
him to be a great brother man. His love of 
Music, indeed, is not this, as it were, the summary 
of all these affections in him ? Many a wild un- 
utterability he spoke-forth from him in the tones 
of his flute. The Devils fled from his flute, he • 
says. Death-defiance on the one hand, and such 
love of music on the other ; I could call these the 
two opposite poles of a great soul ; between the^ 
two all great things had room. 

Luther's face is to me expressive of him ; in 
Kranach's best portraits I find the true Luther. 
A rude plebeian face ; with its huge crag-like 
brows and bones, the emblem of rugged energy ; 
at first, almost a repulsive face. Yet in the eyes 
especially there is a wild silent sorrow ; an un- 
namable melancholy, the element of all gentle 
and fine affections ; giving to the rest the true 
stamp of nobleness. Laughter was in this Luther, 
as we said ; but tears also were there. Tears 
also were appointed him ; tears and hard toil. 
The basis of his life was Sadness, Earnestness. 
In his latter days, after all triumphs and victories, 
he expresses himself heartily weary of living ; he 
considers that God alone can and will regulate 
the course things are taking, and that perhaps 
the Day of Judgment is not far. As for hini, he 
longs for one thing : that God would release him 
from his labor, and let him depart and be at rest. 
They understand little of the man wdio cite this 
in discredit of him ! — I will call this Luther a 
true Great Man ; great in intellect, in courage, 
affection and integrity ; one of our most lovable 

Zbe 1bcro as priest. 191 

and precious men. Great, not as a hewn obelisk ; 
but as an Alpine mountain, — so simple, honest, 
■spontaneous, not setting-up to be great at all ; 
there for quite another purpose than being gireat ! 
Ah yes, unsubduable granite, piercing far and 
wide into the Heavens ; yet in the clefts of it 
fountains, green beautiful valleys with flowers ! 
A right Spiritual Hero and Prophet ; once more, 
a true Son of Nature and Fact, for whom these 
centuries, and many that are to come yet, will be 
thankful to Heaven. 

The most interesting phasis which the Ref- 
ormation anywhere assumes, especially for us 
English, is that of Puritanism. In Luther's own 
country Protestantism soon dwindled into a 
rather barren affair : not a religion or faith, but 
rather now a theological jangling of argument, 
the proper seat of it not the heart ; the essence of 
it sceptical contention: which indeed has jangled 
more and more, down to Voltaireism itself, — 
through Gustavus-Adolphus contentions onward 
to French-Revolution ones ! But in our Island 
there arose a Puritanism, which even got itself 
established as a Presbyterianism and National 
Church among the Scotch ; which came forth as 
a real business of the heart; and has produced 
in the world very notable fruit. In some abuses, 
one may say it is the only phasis of Protestantism 
that ever got to the rank of being a Faith, a true 
heart-communication with Heaven, and of -exhib- 
iting itself in History as such. We must spare 
a few words for Knox ; himself a brave ar»d re- 
markable man j but still more important as Ciuef 


ILectures on Iberoes. 

Priest and Founder, which one may consider hin\ 
to be, of the Faith that became Scotland's, New 
England's, Oliver Cromwell's. History will have 
something to say about this, for some time to come ! 
We may censure Puritanism as we please ; and 
no one of us, I suppose, but would find it a very 
rough defective thing. But we, and all men, may 
understand that it was a genuine thing ; for 
Nature has adopted it, and it has grown, and 
grows. I say sometimes, that .all goes by 
wager-of-battle in this world ; that strength^ well 
understood, is the measure of all worth. Give a 
thing time ; if it can succeed, it is a right thing. 
Look now at American Saxondom ; and at that 
little Fact of the sailing of the Mayflower, two- 
hundred years ago, from Delft Haven in Hol- 
land ! Were we of open sense as the Greeks 
were, we had found a Poem here ; one of Nature's 
own Poems, such as she writes in broad facts over 
great continents. For it was properly the be- 
ginning of America ; there were straggling settlers 
in America before, some material as of a body 
was there ; but the soul of it was first this. These 
poor men, driven-out of their own country, not . 
able well to live in Holland, determine on settling 
in the New World. Black untamed forests are 
there, and wild savage creatures ; but not so 
cruel as Starchamber hangmen. They thought 
the Earth would yield them food, if they tilled 
honestly; the everlasting heaven would stretch, 
there too, overhead ; they should be left in peace, 
to prepare for Eternity by living well in this world 
of Time ; worshipping in what they thought the 
true, not the idolatrous way. They clubbed their 

^be 1bero aa priest. 193 

small means together ; hired a ship, the little ship 
Mayflower, and made ready to set sail. 

In Neal's History of the Puritans* is an account 
of the ceremony of their departure : solemnity, we 
might call it rather, for it was a real act of worship. 
Their minister went down with them to the beach, 
and their brethren whom they were to leave be- 
hind ; all joined in solemn prayer, That God would 
have pity on His poor children, and go with them 
into that waste wilderness, for He also had made 
that. He was there also as well as here. — Hah ! 
These men, I think, had a work ! The weak 
thing, weaker than a child, becomes strong one 
day, if it be a true thing. Puritanism was only 
despicable, laughable then ; but nobody can man- 
age to laugh at it now. Puritanism has got 
weapons and sinews ; it has fire-arms, war-navies ; 
it has cunning in its ten fingers, strength in its 
right arm ; it can steer ships, fell forests, remove 
mountains ; — it is one of the strongest things 
under this sun at present ! 

In the history of Scotland, too, I can find prop- 
erly but one epoch : we may say, it contains 
nothing of world-interest at all but this Reforma- 
tion by Knox. A poor barren country, full of 
continual broils, dissensions, massacrings ; a peo- 
ple in the last state of rudeness and destitution, 
little better perhaps than Ireland at this day. 
Hungry fierce barons, not so much as able to form 
any arrangement with each other how to divide 
what they fleeced from these poor drudges ; but 
obliged, as the Columbian Republics are at this 

* Neal (London, 1755), i. 490. 

194 lectures on Iberocs. 

day, to make of every alteration a revolution ; 
no way of changing a ministry but by hanging 
the old ministers on gibbets : this is a histor- 
ical spectacle of no very singular significance ! 
* Bravery ' enough, I doubt not ; fierce fighting in 
abundance : but not braver or fiercer than that 
of their old Scandinavian Sea-king ancestors ; 
whose exploits we have not found worth dwelling 
on ! It is a country as yet without a soul : noth- 
ing developed in it but what is rude, external, 
semi-animal. And now at the Reformation, the 
internal life is kindled, as it were, under the ribs 
of this outward material de^th. A cause, the 
noblest of causes kindles itself, like a beacon set 
on high ; high as Heaven, yet attainable from 
Eartli ; whereby the meanest man becomes not a 
Citizen only, but a Member of Christ's visible 
Church ; a veritable Hero, if he prove a true 
man ! 

Well ; this is what I mean by a whole ^ nation 
of heroes ; ' a believing nation. There needs not 
a great soul to make a hero ; there needs a god-; 
created soul which will be true to its origin j that 
will be a great soul ! The like has been seen, we 
find. The like will be again seen, under wider 
forms than the Presbyterian : there can be no last- 
ing good done till then. — Impossible ! say some. 
Possible .'* Has it not been^ in this world, as a 
practised fact? Did Hero-worship fail in Knox's 
case ? Or are we made of other clay now ? Did 
the Westminster Confession of Faith add some 
new property to the soul of man ? God made 
the soul of man. He did not doom any soul of 
man to live as a Hypothesis and Hearsay, in a 



Heroes 5 


^bc 1bero as ipciest. 195. 

world filled with such, and with the fatal work 

and fruit of such ! 

P3ut to return : This that Knox did for his 
Nation, I say, we may really call a resurrection as 
from death. It was not a smooth business ; but 
it was welcome surely, and cheap at that price, 
had it been far rougher. On the whole, cheap at 
any price, — as life is. The people began to /ive: 
they needed first of all to do that, at what cost 
and costs soever. Scotch Literature and Thought, 
Scotch Industry; James Watt, David Hume, Wal- 
ter Scott, Robert Burns : I find Knox and the 
Reformation acting in the heart's core of every 
one of these persons and phenomena ; I find that 
without the Reformation they would not have 
been. Or what of Scotland ? The Puritanism- 
of Scotland became that of England, of New Eng- 
land. A tumult in the High Church of Edinburgh 
spread into a universal battle and struggle over all 
these realms ; — there came out, after fifty-years 
struggling, what we all call the ' Glorious Revolu- 
tion,' a Haheas-Corpiis Act, Free Parliaments, and 
rrtuch else ! — Alas, is it not too true what we said, 
Th;^t many men in the van do always, like Russian 
sbldiers, march into the ditch of Schweidnitz, and 
fill it'up with their dead bodies, that the rear may 
pass-over them dry-shod, and gain the honor ? 
How many earnest rugged Cromwells, Knoxes, 
poor Peasant Covenanters, wrestling, battling for 
very life, in rough miry places, have to struggle, 
and suffer, and fall, greatly censured, bemi7'ed, — • 
before a beautiful Revolution of Eighty-eight can 
step-over them in official pumps and silk-stock- 
ings, with universal three-times-three 1 

196 Xecturcs on Iberoes, 

It seems to me hard measure that this Scottish 
man, now after three-hundred years, should have 
to plead like a culprit before the world ; intrinsi- 
cally for having been, in such way as it was then 
possible to be, the bravest of all Scotchmen ] 
Had he been a poor Half-and-half, he could have 
crouched into the corner, like so many others ; 
Scotland had not been delivered ; and Knox had 
been without blame. He is the one Scotchman 
to whom, of all others, his country and the world 
owe a debt. He has to plead that Scotland would 
forgive him for having been worth to it any 
million ' unblamable ' Scotchmen that need no 
forgiveness ! He bared his breast to the battle ,• 
had to row in French galleys, wander forlorn in 
exile, in clouds and storms ; was censured, shot- 
at through his windows ; had a right sore fighting 
life : if this w^orld were his place of recompense, 
he had made but a bad venture of it. I cannot 
apologize for Knox. To him it is very indifferent, 
these two-hundred-and-fifty years or more, what 
men say of him. But we, having got above all 
those details of his battle, and living now in 
clearness on the fruits of his victory, we, for our 
own sake, ought to look through the rumors and 
controversies enveloping the man, into the man 

For one thing, I will remark that this post of 
Prophet to his Nation was not of his seeking ; 
Knox had lived forty years quietly obscure, before 
he became conspicuous. He was the son of.pdbr 
parents ; had got a college education ; become 
a Priest ; adopted the Reformation, and seemed 
well content to guide his own steps by the light 

^be 1bero as driest. 197 

of it, nowise unduly intruding it on others. He 
had lived as Tutor in gentlemen's families ; preach- 
ing when any body of persons wished to hear his 
doctrine : resolute he to walk by the truth, and 
speak the truth when called to do it ; not ambi- 
tious of more ; not fancying himself capable of 
more. In this entirely obscure way he had reached 
the age of forty ; was with the small body of Re- 
formers who were standing siege in St. Andrew's 
Castle, — when one day in their chapel, the 
Preacher after finishing his exhortation to these 
fighters in the forlorn hope, said suddenly. That 
there ought to be other speakers, that all men 
who had a priest's heart and gift in them ought 
now to speak ; — which gifts and heart one of their 
own number, John Knox the name of him, had : 
Had he not ? said the Preacher, appealing to all 
the audience : what then is his duty ? The people 
answered affirmatively ; it was a criminal forsak- 
ing of his post, if such a man held the word that 
was in him silent. Poor Knox was obliged to- 
stand-up ; he attempted to reply ; he could say 
no word ; — burst into a flood of tears, and ran 
out. It is worth remembering, that scene. He 
was in grievous trouble for some days. He felt 
what a small faculty was his for this great work. 
He felt what a baptism he was called to be bap 
tized withal. He ' burst into tears.' 

Our primary characteristic of a Hero, that he 
is sincere, applies emphatically to Knox. It is 
fiot denied anywhere that this, whatever might 
be his other qualities or faults, is among the truest 
of men. With a singular instinct he holds to the- 
truth and fact ; the truth alone is there for him,. 

sigS Xectures on Iberoes. 

"the rest a mere shadow and deceptive nonentity. 
However feeble, forlorn the reality may seem, on 
that and that only can he take his stand. In the 
Galleys of the River Loire, whither Knox and 
the others, after their Castle of St. Andrew's was 
taken, had been sent as Galley-slaves, — some 
officer or priest, one day, presented them an Image 
of the Virgin Mother, requiring that they, the 
blasphemous heretics, should do it reverence. 
Mother ? Mother of God ? said Knox, when the 
"turn came to him : This is no Mother of God : 
"this is ' 2. pented bredd,^ — a piece of wood, I tell 
you, with paint on it ! She is fitter for swimming, 
I think, than for being worshipped, added Knox ; 
and flung the thing into the river. It was not 
•very cheap jesting there : but come of it what 
•might, this thing to Knox was and must continue 
.nothing other than the real truth ; it was ?l peiited 
bredd : worship it he would not. 

He told his fellow-prisoners, in this darkest 
time, to be of courage ; the Cause they had was 
the true one, and must and would prosper ; the 
whole world could not put it down. Reality is 
of God's making; it is alone strong. How many 
pented bredds, pretending to be real, are fitter to 
swim than to be worshipped ! — This Knox cannot 
live but by fact : he clings to reality as the ship- 
wrecked sailor to the cliff. He is an instance to 
us how a man, by sincerity itself, becomes heroic ; 
it is the grand gift he has. AVe find in Knox a 
good honest intellectual talent, no transcendent 
•one ; — a narrow, inconsiderable man, as compared 
-with Luther- but in heartfelt instinctive adherence 
to truth, m sincerity, as we say, he has no superior ; 

^be Ibero as priest. 199. 

nay, one might ask, What equal he has ? The 
heart of him is of the true Prophet cast. " He 
lies there," said the Earl of Morton at his grave, 
"who never feared the face of man." He resem- 
bles, more than any of the modems, an Old- 
Hebrew Prophet. The same inflexibility, intoler- 
ance, rigid narrow-looking adherence to God's 
truth, stern rebuke in the name of God to all that 
forsake truth: an Old-Hebrew Prophet in the 
guise of an Edinburgh Minister of the Sixteenth 
Century. We are to take him for that ; not re- 
quire him to be other. 

Knox's conduct to Queen Mary, tlie harsh 
visits he used to make in her own palace, to re- 
prove her there, have been much commented 
upon. Such cruelty, such coarseness fills us with 
indignation. On reading the actual narrative of 
the business, what Knox said, and what Knox 
meant, I must say one's tragic feeling is rather 
disappointed. They are not so coarse, these 
speeches ; they seem to me about as fine as the 
circumstances would permit ! Knox was not. 
there to do the courtier ; he came on another 
errand. Whoever, reading these colloquies of 
his with the Queen, thinks they are vulgar inso-- 
lences of a plebeian priest to a delicate high lady, , 
mistakes the purport and essence of them alto- - 
gether. It was unfortunately not possible to be 
polite with the Queen of Scotland, unless one 
proved untrue to the Nation and Cause of Scot- 
land. A man who did not wish to s^ee the land 
of his birth made a hunting-field for intriguing 
ambitious Guises, and the Cause of God trampled 
underfoot of Falsehoods, Formulas and the- 

200 Xecturcs on fberoes. 

Devil's Cause, had no method of making himself 
agreeable ! " Better that women weep/' said 
Morton, " than that bearded men be forced to 
weep." Knox was the constitutional opposition- 
party in Scotland : the Nobles of the country, 
called by their station to take that post, were not 
found in it ; Knox had to go, or no one. The 
hapless Queen ; — but the still more hapless 
Country, if sAe were made happy ! Mary herself 
was not without sharpness enough, among her 
other qualities : " Who are you," said she once, 
*' that presume to school the nobles and sovereign 
of this realm ? " — " Madam, a subject born within 
the same," answered he. Reasonably answered ! 
If the ' subject ' have truth to speak, it is not the 
* subject's' footing that will fail him here. — 

We blame Knox for his intolerance. Well, 
surely it is good that each of us be as tolerant 
as possible. Yet, at bottom, after all the talk 
there is and has been about it, what is toler- 
ance ? Tolerance has to tolerate the ////essential ; 
and to see well what that is. Tolerance has to 
be noble, measured, just in its very wrath, when 
it can tolerate no longer. But, on the whole, we 
are not altogether here to tolerate! We are here 
to resist, to control and vanquish withal. We do 
not ' tolerate ' Falsehoods, Thieveries, Iniquities, 
when they fasten on us ; we say to them. Thou 
art false, thou art not tolerable ! We are here to 
extinguish Falsehoods, and put an end to them, 
in some wise way ! I will not quarrel so much 
with the way_; the doing of the thing is our great 
concern. In this sense Knox was, full surely, 

^bc 1bero as ipriest. 201 

A man sent to row in French Galleys, and 
suchlike, for teaching the Truth in his own land, 
cannot always be in the mildest humor ! I am 
not prepared to say that Knox had a soft temper ; 
nor do I know that he had what we call an ill 
temper. An ill nature he decidedly had not. 
Kind honest affections dwelt in the much-endur- 
ins:, hard-worn, ever-battlins: man. That he 
iv///i/ rebuke Queens, and had such weight among 
those proud turbulent Nobles, proud enough 
whatever else they were ; and could mahitain to 
the end a kind of virtual Presidency and Sover- 
eignty in that wild realm, he who was only ' a 
subject born within the same : ' this of itself will 
prove to us that he was found, close at hand, to 
be no mean, acrid man ; but at heart a healthful, 
strong, sagacious man. Such alone can bear 
rule in that kind. They blame him for puUing- 
down cathedrals, and so forth, as if he were a 
seditious rioting demagogue : precisely the re- 
verse is seen to be the fact, in regard to cathedrals 
and the rest of it, if we examine ! Knox wanted 
no pulling-down of stone edifices ; he wanted 
leprosy and darkness to be thrown out of the lives 
of men. Tumult was not his element ; it was 
the tragic feature of his life that he was forced 
to dwell so much in that. Every such man is the 
born enemy of Disorder ; hates to be in it : but 
what then ? Smooth Falsehood is not Order ; 
it is the general sum total of I?isordev. Order is 
Truths — each thing standing on the basis that 
belongs to it : Order and Falsehood cannot sub- 
sist together. 

Withal, unexpectedly enough, this Knox has a 

;202 Xecturee on Ibcroes, 

vein of drollery in him ; which I like much, in 
-combination with his other qualities. He has a 
true eye for the ridiculous. His History^ with its 
rough earnestness, is curiously enlivened with 
this. When the two Prelates, entering Glasgow 
Cathedral, quarrel about precedence ; march 
rapidly up, take to hustling one another, twitch- 
ing one another's rochets, and at last flourishing 
their crosiers like quarter-staves, it is a great sight 
for him everyway ! Not mockery, scorn, bitter- 
ness alone ; though there is enough of that too. 
But a true, loving, illuminating laugh mounts-up 
over the earnest visage ; not a loud laugh ; you 
would say, a laugh in the eyes most of all. An 
honest-hearted, brotherly man ; brother to the 
high, brother also to the low ; sincere in his sym- 
pathy with both. He had his pipe of Bourdeaux 
too, we find, in that old Edinburgh house of his ; 
a cheery social man, with faces that loved him!' 
They go far wrong who think this Knox was a 
gloomy, spasmodic, shrieking fanatic. Not at 
all : he is one of the solidest of men. Practical, 
cautious-hopeful, patient ; a most shrewd, obser:^- 
ing, quietly discerning man. In fact, he has very 
much the type of character we assign to the 
Scotch at present : a certain sardonic taciturnity 
is in him ; insight enough ; and a stouter heart v, 
than he himself knows of. He has the pbwer of 
holding his peace over many things which do not 
vitally concern him, — " They .-* what are they ? " 
But the thing which does vitally concern him, " 
-that thing he will speak of; and in a tone they 
-whole world shall be made to hear : all the more 
^emphatic for his long silence. 

^be fbevo as jprfest. 203 

This Prophet of the Scotch is to me no hateful- 
man ! — He had a sore fight of an existence;, 
wrestling with Popes and PrincipaUties ; in defeat^ 
contention, life-long struggle ; rowing as a galley- 
slave, wandering as an exile. A sore fight : but 
he won it. " Have you hope ? " they asked him^ 
in his last moment, when he could no longer speak.. 
He lifted his finger, 'pointed upwards with his; 
finger,' and so died. Honor to him ! His workS' 
have not di'ed. The letter of his work dies, as of 
all men's ; but the spirit of it never. 

One word more as to the letter of Knox's work. 
The unforgivable offence in him is, that he wished 
to set-up Priests over the head of Kings. In 
other words, he strove to make the Government 
of Scotland a Theocracy. This indeed is properly 
the sum of his offences, the essential sin ; for 
which what pardon can there be? It is most 
true, he did, at bottom, consciously or uncon- 
sciously, mean a Theocracy, or Government of 
God. He did mean that Kings and Prime Min- 
isters, and all manner of persons, in public or 
private, diplomatizing or whatever else they might 
be doing, should walk according to the Gospel of 
Christ, and understand that this was their Law, 
supreme over all laws. He hoped once to see 
such a thing realized ; and the Petition, Thy 
Kingdom come, no longer an empty word. He 
was sore grieved when he saw greedy worldly 
Barons clutch hold of the Church's property; 
when he expostulated that it was not secular 
property, that it was spiritual property, and should 
be turned to //-/^^ church ly uses, education, schools, 
worship ; — and the Regent Murray had to answer, 

204 Xecturcs on IDeroes. 

with a shrug pf the shoulders, " It is a devout 
imagination ! " This was Knox's scheme of right 
and truth ; this he zealously endeavored after, to- 
realize it. If we think his scheme of truth was 
too narrow, was not true, we may rejoice that he 
could not realize it ; that it remained after two 
centuries of effort, unrealizable, and is a *• devout 
imagination ' still. But how shall we blanle hi77i 
for struggling to realize it t Theocracy, Goyern- 
ment of God, is precisely the thing to be struggled 
for ! All Prophets, zealous Priests, are there for 
that purpose. Hildebrand wished a Theocracy ; 
Cromwell wished it, fought for it ; Mahomet at- 
tained it. . Nay, is it not what all zealous men, 
whether called Priests, Prophets, or whatsoever 
else called, do essentially wish, and must wish? 
That right and truth, or God's law, reign supreme 
among men, this is the Heavenly Ideal (well 
named in Knox's time, and namable in all times, 
a revealed ' Will of God •' ) towards which the 
Reformer will insist that all be more and more 
approximated. All true Reformers, as I said, are 
by the nature of them Priests, and strive for, a 

How far such Ideals can ever be introduced 
into Practice, and at what point our impatience 
with their non-introduction ought to begin, is 
always a question. I think we may say safely, 
Let them introduce themselves as far as they 
can contrive to do it ! If they are the true faith 
of men, all men ought to be more or less impa- 
tient always where they are not found intro- 
duced. There will never be wanting Regent- 
Murrays enough to shrug their shoulders, and 

Zbc (bero as ipciest. 205 

say, " A devout imagination ! " We will praise 
the Hero-priest rather, who does what is in /iz'm 
to' bring them in ; and wears-out, in toil, cal- 
umny, contradiction, a noble life, to make a 
God's Kingdom of this Earth. The Earth will 
not become too godlike ! 

2o6 Xecturcs on Iberocs, 



Hero-gods, Prophets, Poets, Priests are forms 
of Heroism that belong to the old ages, make 
their appearance in the remotest times ; some of 
them have ceased to be possible long since, and 
cannot any more show themselves in this world. 
The Hero as Man of Letters^ again, of which 
class we are to speak to-day, is altogether a prod- 
uct of these new ages ; and so long as the won- 
drous art of Writing, or of Ready-writing which 
we call Frintifig^ subsists, he may be expected 
to continue, as one of the main forms of Heroism 
for all future ages. He is, in various respects, 
a very singular phenomenon. 

He is new, I say ; he has hardly lasted above 
a century in the world yet. Never, till about a 
hundred years ago, was there seen any figure of 
a Great Soul living apart in that anomalous man-' 
ner ; endeavoring to speak-forth the inspiration 
that was in him by Printed Books, and find place 
and subsistence by what the world would please 
to give him for doing that. Much had been sold 
and bought, and left to make its own bargain in 

TLbz "iocvo aa /libaii of Xetters. 207 

the marketplace ; but the inspired wisdom of a 
Heroic Soul never till then, in that naked man- 
ner. He, with his copy-rights and copy-wrongs, 
in his squalid garret, in his rusty coat ; ruling 
(for this is what he does), from his grave, after 
death, whole nations and generations who would, 
or would not, give him bread while living, — is a 
rather curious spectacle ! Few shapes of Heroism 
can be more unexpected. 

Alas, the Hero form of old has had to cramp 
himself into strange shapes : the world knows 
not well at any time what to do with him, so 
foreign is his aspect in the world ! It seemed 
- absurd to us, that men, in their rude admiration, 
^Should take some wise great Odin for a god, and 
worship him as such ; some wise great Mahomet 
for one god-inspired, and religiously follow his 
Law for twelve centuries : but that a wise great 
Johnson, a Burns, a Rousseau, should be taken 
for some idle nondescript, extant in the world 
to amuse idleness, and have a few coins and ap- 
plauses thrown him, that he might live thereby ; 
f/its perhaps, as before hinted, will one day seem 
a still absurder phasis of things ! — Meanwhile, 
since it is the spiritual always that determines 
the material, this same Man-of-Letters Hero must 
be ^regarded as our most important modern per- 
son. He, such as he may be, is the soul of all. 
What he teaches, the whole world will do and 
'make. The world's manner of dealing with him 
is the most significant feature of the world's 
general position. Looking well at his life, we 
may get a glance, as deep as is readily possible 
for us, into the life of those singular centuries 

2o8 Xectures on Iberoes. 

which have produced him, in which we ourselves 
live and work. 

There are genuine Men of Letters, and not 
genuine ; as in every kind there is a genuine and 
a spurious. If Hero be taken to mean genuine, 
then I say the Hero as Man of Letters will be 
found discharging a function for us which is 
ever honorable, ever the highest ; and was once 
well known to be the highest. He is uttreing- 
forth, in such way as he has, the inspired soul of 
him ; all that a man, in any case, can do. I say 
inspired ; for what we call ' originality,' ' sincerity,' 
'genius,' the heroic quality we have no good name 
for, signifies that. The Hero is he who lives in 
the inward sphere of things, in the True, Divine 
and Eternal, which exists always, unseen to most, 
under the Temporar}^, Trivial: his being is in 
that ; he declares that abroad, by act or speech 
as it may be, in declaring himself abroad. His 
life, as we said before, is a piece of the everlast- 
ing heart of Nature herself : all men's life is, — 
but the weak many know not the fact, and are 
untrue to it, in most times ; the strong few are 
strong, heroic, perennial, because it cannot be 
hidden from them. The Man of Letters, liKe 
every Hero, is there to proclaim this in such 
sort as he can. Intrinsically it is the same 
function which the old generations named a man 
Prophet, Priest, Divinity, for doing ; which all 
manner of Heroes, by speech or by act, are sent 
into the world to do. 

Fichte the German Philosopher delivered, some 
forty years ago at Erlangen, a highly remarkable 
Course of Lectures on this subject : ' Ueber das 

Zbc 1bero as /Iftan ot Xctters. 209 

IVesen des Gelehrten, On the Nature of the Literary 
Man. ' Fichte, in conformity with the Transcen- 
dental Philosophy, of which he was a distinguished 
teacher, declares first : That all things which we 
see or work with in this Earth, especially we our- 
sel-ves and all persons, are as a kind of vesture 
or sensuous Appearance •• that under all there lies, 
as the essence of them, what he calls the ' Divine 
Idea of the World ; • this is the Reality which 
* lies at the bottom of all Appearance.' To the 
mass of men no such Divine Idea is recognizable 
in the world ; they live merely, says Fichte, among 
the superficialities, practicalities and shows of the 
world, not dreaming that there is anything divine 
under them. But the Man of Letters is sent hither 
specially that he may discern for himself, and 
make manifest to us, this same Divine Idea : in 
every new generation it will manifest itself in a 
new dialect ; and he is there for the purpose of 
doing that. Such is Fichte's phraseology ; with 
which we need not quarrel. It is his way of nam- 
ing what I here, by other words, am striving im- 
perfectly to name ; what there is at present no 
name for : The unspeakable Divine Significance, 
f*ull of splendor, of wonder and terror, that lies 
in the being of every man, of every thing, — the 
Presence of the God who made every man and 
thing. Mahomet taught this in his dialect ; Odin 
in his : it is the thing which all thinking hearts, 
in one dialect or another, are here to teach. 

Fichte calls the Man of Letters, therefore, a 
Prophet, or as he prefers to phrase it, a Priest, 
continually unfolding the Godlike to men : Men 
of Letters are a perpetual Priesthood, from age 

210 Xcctures on Iberoes, 

to age, teaching all men that a God is still 
present in thfeir life ; that all ' Appearance/ 
whatsoever we see in the world, is but as a 
vesture for the ' Divine Idea of the World,' for 
'that which lies at the bottom of Appearance.' 
In the true Literary Man there is thus ever, 
acknowledged or not by the world, a sacredness : 
he is the light of the world ; the world's Priest : 
— guiding it, like a sacred Pillar of Fire, in 
its dark pilgrimage through the waste of Time. 
Fichte discriminates with sharp zeal the fme 
Literary Man, what we here call the Hci'd as Maa 
of Letters, from multitudes of false unheroic. 
Whoever lives not wholly in this Divine Idea, or 
living partially in it, struggles not, as for the one 
good, to live wholly in it, — he is, let him live 
w^here else he like, in what pomps and prosperities 
he like, no Literary Man ; he is, says Fichte, a 
* Bungler, Stiimper.^ Or at best, if he belong 
to the prosaic provinces, he may be a ' Hodman ; ' 
Fichte even calls him elsewhere a ' Nonentity,' 
and has in short no mercy for him, no wish that 
he should continue happy among us 1 This is 
Fichte's notion of the Man of Letters. It means, 
jn its owij form, precisely what we here mean. 

In this point of view, I consider that, for the 
last hundred years, by far the notablest of all 
Literary Men is Fichte's countryman, Goethe. 
To that man too, in a strange way, there was 
given what we may call a life in the Divine Idea 
of the World ; vision of the inward divine mys- 
tery ; and strangely, out of his Books, the world 
jises imaged once more as godlike, the work- 
tnanship and temple of a God. Illuminated all, 

^be Ibero as /llban of Xetters. 2n 

not in fierce impure fire-splendor as of Mahomet, 
but in mild celestial radiance ; — really a Prophecy 
in these most unprophetic times ; to my mind, by 
far the greatest, though one of the quietest, among 
all the great things that have come to pass in 
them. Our chosen specimen of the Hero as 
Literary Man would be this Goethe. And it 
were a very pleasant plan for me here to discourse 
of his heroism : for I consider him to be a true 
Hero ; heroic in what he said and did, and per- 
haps still more in what he did not say and did 
not do ; to me a noble spectacle : a great heroic 
ancient' man, speaking and keeping silence as an 
ancient Hero, in the guise of a most modern, high- 
bred, high-cultivated Man of Letters ! We have 
had no such spectacle ; no man capable of afford' 
ing such, for the last hundred-and-fifty years. 

But at present, such is the general state of 
knowledge about Goethe, it were worse than 
useless to attempt speaking of him in this case. 
Speak as I might, Goethe, to the great majority 
of yoiL, would remain problematic, vague ; no 
impression but a false one could be realized. 
Him we must leave to future times. Johnson, 
Burns, Rousseau, three great figures from a prior 
time, from a far inferior state of circumstances, 
will suit us better here. Three men of the Eight- 
eenth Century ; the conditions of their life far 
■more resemble what those of ours still are in 
England, than what Goethe's in Germany were. 
Alas, these men did not conquer like him ; they 
fought bravely, and fell. They were not heroic 
brinojers of the lio^ht, but heroic seekers of it. 
They lived under galling conditions ; struggling 
14 / 

212 Xectures on Iberoes. 

as under mountains of impediment, and could not 
unfold themselves into clearness, or victorious 
interpretation of that ' Divine Idea.' It is rather 
the Tofnbs of three Literary Heroes that I have 
to show you. There are the monumental heaps, 
under which three spiritual giants lie buried. 
Very mournful, but also great and full of interest 
for us. We will linger by them for a while. 

Complaint is often made, in these times, of 
what we call the disorganized condition of 
society : how ill many arranged forces of society 
fulfil their work : how many powerful forces are 
seen working in a wasteful chaotic, altogether un- 
arranged manner. It is too just a complaint, as 
we all know. But perhaps if we look at this of 
Books and the Writers of Books, we shall find 
here, as it were, the summary of all other dis- 
organization ; — a sort of heart, from which, and 
to which, all other confusion circulates in the 
world 1 Considering what Book-writers do in 
the world, and what the world does with Book- 
writers, I should say. It is the most anomalous 
thing the world at present has to show. — We 
should get into a sea far beyond sounding, did 
we attempt to give account of this : but we must 
glance at it for the sake of our subject. The 
worst element in the life of these three Literary 
Heroes was, that they found their business- and 
position such a chaos. On the beaten road there 
is tolerable travelling ; but it is sore work, and 
many have to perish, fashioning a path through 
the impassable ! 

Our pious Fathers, feeling well what impor- 

^be Ibero as /nban ot betters. 


tance lay in the speaking of man to men, founded 
churches, made endowments, reguhitions ; every- 
where in the civilized world there is a Pulpit, 
environed with all manner of complex dignified 
appurtenances and furtherances, that therefrom 
a man with the tongue may, to best advantage, 
address his fellow-men. They felt that this 
was the most important thing ; that without this 
there was no good thing. It is a right pious 
work, that of theirs ; beautiful to behold ! But 
now with the art of Writing, with the art of 
Printing, a total change has come over that busi- 
ness. The Writer of a Book, is not he a 
Preacher preaching not to this parish or that, 
on this day or that, but to all men in all times 
and places .'' Surely it is of the last importance 
that /id do his work right, whoever do it wrong; 
- — that the eye report not falsely, for then all the 
other members are astray ! Well ; how he may 
do his work, whether he do it right or wrong, or 
do it at all, is a point which no man in the world 
has taken the pains to think of. To a certain 
shopkeeper, trying to get some money for his 
books, if lucky, he is of some importance ; to no 
other man of any. Whence he came, whither he 
is bound, by what ways he arrived, by what he 
might be furthered on his course, no one asks. 
He is an accident in society. He wanders like 
a wSd Ishmaelite, in a world of which he is as 
the spiritual light, either the guidance or the 
misguidance ! 

Certainly the Art of Writing is the most mirac- 
ulous of all things man has devised. Odin's 
Rimes were the first form of the work of a Hero ; 

214 Xectures on iberoes. 

Books, written words, are still»miraculous Runes^ 
the latest form ! In Books lies the soul of the 
whole Past Time ; the articulate audible voice 
of the Past, when the body and material substance 
of it has altogether vanished like a dream. 
Mighty fleets and armies, harbors and arsenals, 
vast cities, high-domed, many-engined, — they are 
precious, great : but what do they become ? 
Agamemnon, the many Agamemnons, Pericleses, 
and their Greece ; all is gone now to some ruined 
fragments, dumb mournful wrecks and blocks : 
but the Books of Greece ! There Greece, ta 
every thinker, still very literally lives ; can be 
called-up again into life. No magic Rune is 
stranger than a Book. All that Mankind has 
done, thought, gained or been: it is lying as in 
magic preservation in the pages of Books. They 
are the chosen possession of men. 

Do not Books still accomplish miracles, as ^ 
Runes were fabled to do ? They persuade men. 
Not the wretchedest circulating-library novel, 
which foolish girls thumb and con in remote vil- 
lages, but will help to regulate the actual practi- 
cal weddings and households of those foolish girls. 
So ' CeUa' felt, so ' Clifford', acted : the foolish 
Theorem of Life, stamped into those young brainy, 
comes out as a solid Practice one day. Consider 
whether any Rune in the wildest imagination of 
Mythologist ever did such wonders as, on the 
actual firm Earth, some Books have done ! What 
built St. Paul's Cathedral ? Look at the heart , 
of the matter, it was that divine Hebrew Book,— ^ 
the word partly of the man Moses, an outlaw 
tending his Midianitish herds, four-thousand 

^be 1bero as /iRan of Xetters* 215 

years ago, in the wildernesses of Sinai ! It is 
the strangest of things, yet nothing is truer. 
With the art of Writing, of which Printing is a 
simple, an inevitable and comparatively insignifi- 
cant corollary, the true reign of miracles for man- 
kind commenced. It related, with a wondrous new 
contiguity and perpetual closeness, the Past and 
Distant with the Present in time and place ; all 
times and all places with this our actual Here and 
Now. All things were altered for men ; all modes 
of important work of men : teaching, preaching, 
governing, and all else. 

To look at Teaching, for instance. Univer- 
sities are a notable, respectable product of the 
modern ages. Their existence too is modified, 
to the very basis of it, by the existence of Books. 
Universities arose while there were yet no Books 
procurable ; while a man, for a single Book, had 
to give an estate of land. That, in those circum- 
stances, when a man had some knowledge to 
communicate, he should doit by gathering the 
learners round him, face to face, was a necessity 
for him. If you wanted to know what Abelard 
knew, you must go and listen to Abelard. Thou- 
sands, as many as thirty-thousand, went to hear 
Abelard and that metaphysical theology of his. 
And now for any other teacher who had also 
something of his own to teach, there was a great 
convenience opened : so many thousands eager to 
learn were already assembled yonder; of all places 
the best place for him was that. For any third 
teacher it was better still ; and grew ever the better, 
the more teachers there came. It only needed 
now that the King: took notice of this new 

2i6 Xectures on Iberoes, 

phenomenon ; combined or agglomerated the 
various schools into one school ; gave it edifices, 
privileges, encouragements, and named it Uni- 
versitas, or School of all Sciences : the University 
of Paris, in its essential characters, was there. The 
model of all subsequent Universities ; which down 
even to these days, for six centuries now, have 
gone on to found themselves. Such, I conceive, 
was the origin of Universities. 

It is clear, however, that with this simple cir- 
cumstance, facility of getting Books, the whole 
conditions of the business from top to bottom 
were changed. Once invent Printing, you met- 
amorphosed all Universities, or superseded them! 
The Teacher needed not now to gather men per- 
sonally round him, that he might speak to them 
what he knew : print it in a Book, and all learners 
far and wide, for a trifle, had it each at his own 
fireside, much more effectually to learn it ! — 
Doubtless there is still peculiar virtue in Speech ; 
even writers of Books may still, in some circum- 
stances, find it convenient to speak also, — witness 
our present meeting here ! There is, one would 
say, and must ever remain while man has a tongue, 
a distinct province for Speech as well ^ as for 
Writing and Printing. In regard to all things this 
must remain ; to Universities among others. But 
the limits of the two have nowhere yet been 
pointed out, ascertained ; much less put in 
practice : the University which would completely 
take-in that great new fact, of the existence of 
Printed Books, and stand on a clear footing for 
the Nineteenth Century as the Paris one did for 
the Thirteenth, has not yet come into existence. 

^be 1bero as /Ilban ot Xetters, 


If we think of it, all that a University or final 
highest School can do for us, is still but what the 
first School began doing, — teach us to read. We 
learn to read, in various languages, in various 
sciences ; we learn the alphabet and letters of all 
manner of Books. But the place where we are to 
get knowledge, even theoretic knowledge, is the 
Books themselves ! It depends on what we read, 
after all manner of Professors have done their best 
for us. The true University of these days is a 
Collection of Books. 

But to the Church itself, as I hinted already, 
all is changed, in its preaching, in its working, 
by the introduction of Books. The Church is 
the working recognized Union of our Priests or 
Prophets, of those who by wise teaching guide the 
souls of men. While there was no Writing, even 
wiiile there was no Easy-writing or Fri?iti?ig, the 
preaching of the voice was the natural sole method 
of performing this. But now with Books ! — He 
that can write a true Book, to persuade England, is 
not he the Bishop and Archbishop, the Primate of 
England and of AH England .? I many a time say, 
the writers of Newspapers, Pamphlets, Poems, 
Books, these are the real working effective Church 
of a modern country. Nay not only our preach- 
ing, but even our worship, is not it too accom- 
plished by means of Printed Books ? The noble 
sentiment which a gifted soul has clothed for us in 
melodious words, which brings melody into our 
hearts,— is not this essentially, if we will under- 
stand it, of the nature of worship ? There are many, 
in all countries, who, in this confused time, have 
no other method of worship. He who, in any 

2i8 Xcctures on Iberoes. 

way, shows us better than we knew before that a 
lily of the fields is beautiful, does he not show it 
us as an effluence of the Fountain of all Beauty ; 
as tlie handwritings made visible there, of the 
great Maker of the Universe ? He has sung for 
us, made us sing with him, a little verse of a 
sacred Psalm. Essentially so. How much more 
he who sings, who says, or in any way brings home 
to our heart the noble doings, feelings, darings 
and endurances of a brother man 1 He has verily 
touched our hearts as with a live Q.02Xfro7n the 
altar. Perhaps there is>no worship more authentic. 
Literature, so far as it is Literature, is an ' apoc- 
alypse of Nature,' a revealing of the ' open secret.^ 
It may well enough be named, in F^chte's style, 
a ' continuous revelation ' of the Godlike in the^ 
Terrestrial and Common. The Godlike does 
ever, in very truth, endure there ; is brought 
out, now in this dialect, now in that, with various 
degrees of clearness : all true gifted Singers and 
Speakers are, consciously or unconsciously, doing 
so. The dark stormful indignation of a Byron, 
so wayward and perverse, may have touches of it ; 
nay the withered mockery of a French sceptic, — 
his mockery of the False, a love and worship of 
the True. How much more the sphere-harmony 
of a Shakspeare, of a Goethe ; the cathedral- 
music of a Milton ! They are something too, 
those humble genuine lark-notes of a Burns, — 
skylark, starting from the humble furrow, far over- 
head into the blue depths, and singing to us so 
genuinely there ! For all true singing is of the 
nature of worship ; as indeed all true working 
may be said to be, — whereof such singing is 

c;bc 1bero as ISsan ot Xetters, 


but the record, and fit melodious representation, 
to us. Fragments of a real 'Church Liturgy' 
and 'Body of Homilies,' strangely disguised from 
the common eye, are to be found weltering in 
that huge froth-ocean of. Printed Speech we 
loosely call Literature ! Books are our Church 

Or turning now to the Government of men. 
Witenagemote, old Parliament, was a great thing. 
The affairs of the nation were there deliberated 
and decided; what we were to ^/o as a nation. 
But does not, though the name Parliament sub- 
sists, the parliamentary debate go on now, every- 
"vvhere and at all times, in a far more comprehen 
5ive way, ou^ of Parliament altogether ? Burke 
said there were Three Estates in Parliament-, 
but, in the Reporters' Gallery yonder, there sat a 
Fourth Estate more important far than they all. 
It is not a figure of speech, or a witty saying ; it 
is a literal fact, — very momentous to us in these 
times. Literature is our Parliament too. Print- 
ing, which comes necessarily out of Writing, I say 
often, is equivalent to Democracy : invent Writing, 
Democracy is inevitable. Writing brings Printing ; 
brings universal every-day extempore Printing, 
as we see at present. Whoever can speak, speak- 
ing now to the whole nation, becomes a power, a 
branch of government, with inalienable weight in 
law-making, in all acts of authority. It matters 
not what rank he has, what revenues or garni- 
tures : the requisite thing is, that he have a tongue 
which others will listen to ; this and nothing more 
is requisite. The nation is governed by all that 
has tongue in the riatipn : Democracy is virtually 

22 o Xecturc6 on Iberoes* 

there. Add only, that whatsoever power exists 
will have itself, by and by, organized ; working 
secretly under bandages, obscurations, obstruc- 
tions, it will never rest till it get to work 
free, unencumbered, visible to all. Democracy 
virtually extant will insist on becoming palpably 
extant. — 

On all sides, are we not driven to the conclu- 
sion that, of the things which man can do or 
make here below, by far the most momentous, 
wonderful and worthy are the things we call 
Books ! Those poor bits of rag-paper with black 
ink on them ; — from the Daily Newspaper to the 
sacred Hebrew Book, what have they not done, 
what are they not doing ! — For indeed, whatever 
be the outward form of the thing (bits of paper, 
as we say, and black ink), is it not verily, at bottom, 
the highest act of man's faculty that produces a 
Book ? It is the Thought of man ; the true thau- 
maturgic virtue ; by which man works all things 
whatsoever. All that he does, and brings to pass, 
is the vesture of a Thought. This London City, 
with all its houses, palaces, steam engines, cathe- 
drals, and huge immeasurable traffic and tuipult, 
what is it but a Thought, but millions of Thoughts 
made into One ; — a huge immeasurable Spirit of a 
Thought, embodied in brick, in iron, smoke, dust, 
Palaces, Parliaments, Hackney Coaches, Kath- 
erine Docks, and the rest of it ! Not a brick ^yas 
made but some man had to think of the making 
of that brick. — The thing we call ' bits of paper 
with traces of black ink,' is the purest embodi- 
ment a Thought of man can have. No wonder it 
is, in all ways, the activest and noblest. 

Zbc Ibero a& /llban ot Xettcrs* 221 

All this, of the importance and supreme impor- 
tance of the Man of Letters in modern Society, 
and how the Press is to such a degree supersed- 
ing the Pulpit, the Senate, the Senatus Academicus 
and much else, has been admitted for a good 
while ; and recognized often enough, in late times, 
with a sort of sentimental triumph and wonder- 
ment. It seems to me, the Sentimental by and 
by will have to give place to the Practical. If 
M^n of Letters are so incalculably influential, 
actually performing such work for us from age to 
age, and even from day to day, then I think we 
may conclude that Men of Letters will not always 
wander like unrecognized unregulated Ishmaelites 
among us ! Whatsoever thing, as I said above, 
has virtual unnoticed power will cast-off its wrap- 
pages, bandages, and step-forth one day with pal- 
pably articulated, universally visible power. That 
one man wear the clothes, and take the wages, of 
a function which is done by quite another : there 
can be no profit in this ; this is not right, it is 
wrong. And yet, alas, the making of it right, — ■ 
what a business, for long times to come ! Sure 
enoUgh, this that we call Organization of the 
Literary Guild is still a great way off, encumbered 
with all manner of complexities. If you asked 
me what were the best possible organization for 
the Men of Letters in modern society ; the arrange- 
ment of furtherance and regulation, grounded the 
most accurately on the actual facts of their posi- 
tion and of the world's position, — I should beg 
to say that the problem far exceeded my faculty ! 
It is not one man's faculty ; it is that of many 
successive men turned earnestly upon it, that will 

22 2 Xectures on Iberoes. 

bring-out even an approximate solution. What 
the best arrangement were, none of us could say. 
But if you asked, Which is the worst ? I answer : 
This which we now have, that Chaos should sit 
umpire in it ; this is the worst. To the best, or 
any good one, there is yet a long way. / 

One remark I must not omit, That royal or 
parliamentary grants of money are by no means 
the chief thing wanted! To give our "Men of 
Letters stipends, endowments and all furtherance 
of cash, will do little towards the business. Qn the 
whole, one is weary of hearing about the 6mnipo- 
tence of money. I will say rather that, for a 
genuine man, it is no evil to be poor ; that" there 
ought to be Literary Men poor, — to show whether 
they are genuine or not ! Mendicant Orders, 
bodies of good men doomed to beg, were instituted 
in the Christian Church ; a most natural and even 
necessary development of the spirit of Chris- 
tianity. It was itself founded on Poverty, on Sor- 
row, Contradiction, Crucifixion, every species of 
worldly Distress and Degradation. We may say, 
that he who has not known those things, and 
learned from them the priceless lessons they have 
to teach, has missed a good opportunity of school- 
ing. To beg, and go barefoot, in coarse woollen 
cloak with a rope round your loins, and be de- 
spised of all the world, was no beautiful business ; 
= — nor an honorable one in any eye, till the noble- 
ness of those who did so had made it honored 
of some ! 

Begging is not in our course at the present 
time : but for the rest of it, who will say that a 
Johnson is not perhaps the better for being poor ? 

Zbc 1bero as /IBan ot Xettete. 


It is needful for him, at all rates, to know that 
outward profit, that success of any kind is ?wt the 
goal he has to aim at. Pride, vanity, ill-condi- 
tioned Egoism of all sorts, are bred in his heart, 
as in every heart ; need, above all, to be cast-out 
of his heart, — to be, with whatever pangs, torn- 
out of it, cast-forth from it, as a thing worthless. 
Byron, born rich and noble, made-out even less 
than Burns, poor and plebeian. Who knows but, 
in that same ^ best possible organization ' as yet 
far' off. Poverty may still enter as an important 
element ? What if our Men of Letters, men set- 
ting-up to be Spiritual Heroes, were still f/it7i, as 
they now are, a kind of ' involuntary monastic 
order ; ' bound still to this same ugly Poverty, — 
till they had tried what was in it too, till they had 
learned to make it to do for them ! Money, in 
truth, can do much, but it cannot do all. We 
must know the province of it, and confine it there; 
and even spurn it back, when it wishes to get 

Besides, were the money-furtherances, the 
proper season for them, the fit assigner of them, 
all settled, — how is the Burns to be recognized that 
merits these ? He must pass through the ordeal, 
and prove himself. T/i/'s ordeal ; this wild welter 
of a chaos which is called Literary Life ; this too 
is a kind of ordeal ! There is clear truth in the 
idea that a struggle from the lower classes of 
society, towards the upper regions and rewards 
of society, must ever continue. Strong men are 
born there, who ought to stand elsewhere than 
there. The manifold, inextricably complex, uni- 
versal struggle of these constitutes, and must 

224 Xccturee on Iberoes, 

constitute, what is called the progress of society. 
For Men of Letters, as for all other sorts of men. 
How to regulate that struggle ? There is the 
whole question. To leave it as it is, at the 
mercy of ^blind Chance ; a whirl of distracted 
atoms, one canceling the other ; one of the thou- 
sand arriving saved, nine-hundred-and-ninety- 
nine lost by the way ; your royal Johnson languish- 
ing inactive in garrets, or harnessed to the yoke 
of Printer Cave ; your Burns dying broken- 
hearted as a Ganger ; your Rousseau driven into 
mad exasperation, kindling French Revolutions, 
by his paradoxes : this, as we said, is clearly 
enough the woj-st regulation. The bcst^ alas, is 
far from us ! 

And yet there can be no doubt but it is coming ; 
advancing on us, as yet hidden in the bosom of 
centuries : this is a prophecy one can risk. For 
so soon as men get to discern the importance of 
a thing, they do infallibly set about arranging it, 
facilitating, forwarding* it ; and rest not till, in 
some approximate degree, they have accomplished 
that. I say, of all Priesthoods, Aristocracies, 
Governing Classes at present extant in the world, 
there is no class comparable for importance ta 
that Priesthood of the Writers of Books. This 
is a fact which he who runs may read, — and draw 
inferences from. " Literature will take care of 
itself," answered Mr. Pitt, when applied-to for 
some help for Burns. " Yes," adds Mr. Southey, 
" it will take care of itself ; and of you too^ if you 
do not look to it ! " 

The result to individual Men of Letters is not 
the momentous one ; they are but individuals. 

tTbe 1bero as /iBan of Xettcrs. 225 

an infinitesimal fraction of the great body ; they 
can struggle on, and live or else die, as they have 
been wont. But it deeply concerns the whole 
society, whether it will set its light on high places, 
to walk thereby ; or trample it under foot, and 
scatter it in all ways of wild waste (not without 
conflagration), as heretofore ! Light is the one 
thing wanted for the world. Put wisdom in the 
head of the world, the world will fight its battle 
victoriously, and be the best world man can make 
it. I call this anomaly of a disorganic Literary 
Class the heart of all other anomalies, at once 
product and parent ; some good arrangement for 
that would be as the punctiu?i saliens of a new 
vitality and just arrangement for all. Already, 
in some European countries, in France, in Prussia, 
one traces some beginnings of an arrangement 
for the Literary Class ; indicating the gradual 
possibility of such. I believe that it is possible ; 
that it will have to be possible. 

By far the most interesting fact I hear about 
the Chinese is one on which we cannot arrive at 
clearness, but which excites endless curiosity even 
in the dim state : this namely, that they do at- 
tempt to make their men of Letters their Gov- 
ernors ! It would be rash to say, one understood 
how this was done, or with what degree of success 
it was done. All such things must be very im- 
successful ; yet a small degree of success is pre- 
cious ; the very attempt how precious ! There 
does seem to be, all over China, a more or less 
active search everywhere to discover the men of 
talent that grow up in the young generation. 
Schools there are for every one ; a foolish sort 

2 26 Xectures on fbcxocs. 

of training, yet still a sort. The youths who dis- 
tinguish themselves in the lower school are pro- 
moted into favorable stations in the higher, that 
they may still more distinguish themselves, — for- 
ward and forward : it appears to be out of these 
that the Official Persons, and incipient Governors, 
are taken. These are they whom they fry first, 
whether they can govern or not. And surely 
with the best hope : for they are the men that 
have already shown intellect. Try them : they 
have not governed or administered as yet ; per- 
haps they cannot ; but there is no doubt they /laz'e 
some Understanding, — without which no man 
can ! Neither is Understanding a too/, as we are 
too apt to figure ; ' it is a /zan^ which can handle 
any tool.' Try these men : they are of all others 
:he best worth trying. — Surely there is no kind 
of government, constitution, revolution, social 
apparatus or arrangement, that I know of in this 
world, so promising to one's scientific curiosity 
as this. The man of intellect at the top of 
affairs : this is the aim of all constitutions and 
revolutions, if they have any aim. For the man 
of true intellect, as I assert and believe always, 
is the noble-hearted man withal, the true, just, 
humane and valiant man. Get Ziirn for gov- 
ernor, all is got ; fail to get him, though you had 
Constitutions plentiful as blackberries, and a 
Parliament in every village, there is nothing yet 

These things look strange, truly ; and are not 
such as we commonly speculate upon. But we 
are fallen into strange times; these things will 
require to be speculated upon ; to be rendered 

^be Ibcro as ^an of ILettcre. 227 

practicable, to be in some way put in practice. 
These, and many others. On all hands of us, 
there is the announcement, audible enough, that 
the old Empire of Routine has ended ; that to say 
a thing has long been, is no reason for its con- 
tinuing to be. The things which have been are 
fallen into decay, are fallen into incompetence ; 
large masses of mankind, in every society of our 
Europe, are no longer capable of living at all by 
the things which have been. When millions of 
men can no longer by their utmost exertion gain 
food for themselves, and ' the third man for thirty- 
six weeks each year is short of third-rate potatoes,* 
the things which have been must decidedly pre- 
pare to alter themselves ! — I will now quit this 
of the organization of ]\Ien of Letters. 


Alas, the evil that pressed heaviest on those 
Literary Heroes of ours was not the want of 
organization for Men of Letters, but a far deeper 
one ; out of which, indeed, this and so many 
other evils for the Literary Man, and for all men, 
had, as from their fountain, taken rise. That 
our Hero as Man of Letters had to travel with- 
out highway, companionless, through an inorganic 
chaos, — and to leave his own life and faculty 
lying there, as a partial contribution towards 
pushijig some highway through it : this, had not 
his faculty itself been so perverted and paralyzed, 
he might have put-up with, might have considered 
to be but the common lot of Heroes. His fatal 
misery was the spiritual paralysis^ so we may 
name it, of the Age in which his life lay \ where- 
by his life too, do what he might, was half-para- 

2 28 Xcctures on IDeroes. 

lyzed ! The Eighteenth was a Sceptical Century, 
in which httle word there is a whole Pandora's Box 
of miseries. Scepticism means not intellectual 
Doubt alone, but moral Doubt ; all sorts of in- 
fidelity, insincerity, spiritual paralysis. Perhaps, 
in few centuries that one could specify since the 
world began, was a life of Heroism more difficult 
for a man. That was not an age of Faith, — an 
age of Heroes ! The very possibility of Heroism 
had been, as it were, formally abnegated in the 
minds of all. Heroism was gone forever; Trivr 
iality, Formulism and Commonplace were come 
forever. The ' age of miracles ' had been, or per- 
haps had not been ; but it was not any longer?/ 
An effete world ; wherein Wonder, Greatness, God^ 
hood could not now dwell ; — in one word, a god- 
less world ! 

How mean, dwarfish are their ways of think- 
ing, in this time, — compared not with the Chris- 
tian Shakspeares and Miltons, but with the old 
Pagan Skalds, with any species of believing men ! 
The living Tree Igdrasil, with the melodious 
prophetic waving of its world-wide boughs, deep- 
rooted as Hela, has died-out into the clanking of 
a World-MACHiNE. ' Tree ' and ' Machine : ' con- 
trast these two things. I, for my share, declare 
the world to be no machine ! I say that it does 
not go by wheel-and-pinion ' motives,' self-inter- 
ests, checks, balances ; that there is something 
far other in it than the clank of spinning-jennies, 
and parliamentary majorities ; and, on the whole, 
that it is not a machine at all ! — The old Norse 
Heathen had a truer notion of God's-v;orld than 
these poor Machine-Sceptics : the old Hfeatben 

Zbe 1bero as /nban of Xctters. 229 

Norse were siiicere men. But for these poor 
Sceptics there was no sincerity, no truth. Half- 
truth and hearsay was called truth. Truth, for 
most men, meant plausibility ; to be measured by 
the number of votes you could get. They had 
lost, any notion that sincerity was possible, or of 
what sincerity was. How t many Plausibilities 
asking, with unaffected surprise and the air of 
offended virtue, What ! am not I sincere ? Spir- 
itual Paralysis, I ^ay, nothing left but a Mechan- 
ical life, was the characteristic of that century. 
For the common man, unless happily he stood 
bcltm' his century and belonged to another prior 
one, it was impossible to be a Believer, a Hero ; 
he lay buried, unconscious, under these baleful 
influences. To the strongest man, only with 
infinite struggle and confusion was it possible to 
work himself half-loose ; and lead as it were, in 
an enchanted, most tragical way, a spiritual death- 
in-life, and be a Half-Hero ! 

Scepticism is the name we give to all this ; as 
the chief symptom, as the chief origin of all this. 
Concerning which so much were to be said ! It 
would take many Discourses, not a small fraction 
of one Discourse, to state what one feels about 
that Eighteenth Century and its ways. As indeed 
this, and the like of this, which we now call Scep- 
ticism, is precisely the black malady and life-foe, 
against which all teaching and discoursing since 
man's life began has directed itself : the battle of 
Belief against Unbelief is the never-ending battle ! 
Neither is it in the way of crimination that one 
would wish to speak. Scepticism, for that cen- 
tury, we must consider as the decay of old ways 

23 o Xecture6 on Iberoes. 

•of believing, the preparation afar off for new, 
better and wider ways, — an inevitable thing. We 
will not blame men for it ; we will lament their 
hard fate. We will understand that destruction 
of old forms is not destruction of everlasting sub* 
stances ; that Scepticism, as sorrowful and hateful 
as we see it, is not an end but a beginning. . 

The other day speaking, without prior purpose 
that way, of Bentham's theory of man and man's 
life, I chanced to call it a more beggarly one than 
Mahomet's. I am bound to say, now when it is 
once uttered, that such is my deliberate opinion. 
Not that one would mean offence against the 
man Jeremy Bentham, or those who respect and 
iDelieve him. Bentham himself, and even the 
•creed of Bentham, seems to me comparatively 
worthy of praise. It is a determinate being what 
all the world, in a cowardly half-and-half manner, 
-was tending to be. Let us have the crisis ; we 
shall either have death or the cure. I call this 
gross, steamengine Utilitarianism an approach 
towards new Faith. It was a laying-down of 
•cant; a saying to oneself: '"Well then, this world 
is a dead iron machine, the god of it Gravi- 
tation and selfish Hunger ; let us see what, by 
checking and balancing, and good adjustment of 
tooth and pinion, can be made of it ! " Bentham- 
ism has something complete, manful, in such 
fearless committal of itself to what it finds true ; 
you may call it Heroic, though a Heroism with 
its eyes put out ! It is the culminating point, and 
fearless ultimatum, of what lay in the half-and- 
half state, pervading man's whole existence in 
that Eighteenth Century. It seems to me, all 

^be 1bero as /iRan of ^Letters, 


deniers of Godhood, and all lip-believers of it,, 
are bound to be Benthamites, if they have- 
courage and honesty. Benthamism is an eyeless 
Heroism : the Human Species, like a hapless, 
blinded Samson grinding in the Philistine Mill, 
clasps convulsively the pillars of its Mill ; brings 
huge ruin down, but ultimately deliverance withal. 
Of Bentham I meant to say no harm. 

But this I do say, and would wish all, men to 
know and lay to heart, that he who discerns noth- 
ing but iVIechanism in the Universe has in the 
fatalest way missed the secret of the Universe 
altogether. That all Godhood should vanish out 
of men's conception of this Universe seems to me 
precisely the most brutal error, — I will not dis- 
parage Heathenism by calling it a Heathen error, 
— -that men could fall into. It is not true ; it is 
fadse at the very heart of it. A man who thinks 
so will think tvroiig about all things in the world ; 
this original sin will vitiate all other conclusions- 
he can form. One might call it the most lament- 
al^le of Delusions, — not forgetting Witchcraft 
itself ! Witchcraft worshipped at least a living 
Devil ; but this worships a dead iron Devil ; na 
God, not even a Devil ! — Whatsoever is noble, 
divine, inspired, drops thereby out of life. There 
remains everywhere in life a despicable caput- 
mortuum ; the mechanical hull, all soul fled out 
of it. How can a man act heroically? The 
* Doctrine of Motives ' will teach him that it is, 
under more or less disguise, nothing but a. 
wretched love of Pleasure, fear of Pain ; that 
Hunger, of applause, of cash, of whatsoever 
rictual it may be, is the ultimate fact of man's- 

232 ^Lectures en Iberoes. 

life. Atheism, in brief ; — which does indeed 
frightfully punish itself. The man, I say, is be- 
come spiritually a paralytic man ; this godlike 
Universe a dead mechanical steamengine, all 
working by motives, checks, balances, and I know 
not what ; wherein, as in the detestable belly of 
some Phalaris'-Bull of his own contriving, he the 
poor Phalaris sits miserably dying ! 

Belief I define to be the healthy act of a man's 
mind. It is a mysterious indescribable process, 
that of getting to believe ; — indescribable, as all 
vital acts are. We have our mind given us, not 
that it may cavil and argue, but that it may see 
into something, give us clear belief and under- 
standing about something whereon we are then 
to proceed to act. Uoubt, truly, is not itself a 
crime. Certainly we cio not rush out, clutch-up the 
first thing we find, and straightway believe that ! 
All manner of doubt, inquiry, o-Kexfis as it is named, 
about all mr.nner of objects, dwells in every 
reasonable mind. It is the mystic working of 
the mind, on the object it is getting to know and 
believe. Belief comes out of all this, above 
ground, like the tree from its hidden 7'oois. But 
now if, even on common things, we require that 
a man keep his doubts sile?it, and not babble of 
them till they in some measure become affirma- 
tions or denials ; how much more in regard to 
the highest things, impossible to speak-of in 
words at all ! That a man parade his doubt, and 
get to imagine that debating and logic (which 
means at best only the manner of tellhig us 
your thouglit, your belief or disbelief, about a 
thing) is the triumph and true work of what 

Zbc Ibero as /iRan of Xettcrs. 233 

intellect he has : alas, this is as if you should oz'er^ 
turn the tree, and instead of green boughs, leaves 
and fruits, show us ugly taloned roots turned-up 
into the air, — and no growth, only death and 
misery going-on ! 

For the Scepticism, as I said, is not intellectual 
only ; it is moral also ; a chronic atrophy and 
disease' of the whole soul. A man lives by 
believing something ; not by debating and argu- 
\^ng about many things. A sad case for him when 
all that he can manage to believe is something he 
can button in his pocket, and with one or the other 
oro^an eat and dio^est ! Lower than that he will not 
get. We call those ages in which he gets so low 
the mournfulest, sickest and meanest of all ages. 
The world's heart is palsied, sick : how can any 
limb of it be whole ? Genuine Acting ceases in all 
departments of the world's work ; dextrous Simili- 
tude of Acting begins. The world's wages are 
pocketed, the world's work is not done. Heroes 
have gone-out ; Quacks have come-in. Accord- 
ingly what Century, since the end of the Roman 
world, which also was a time of scepticism, 
simulacra and universal decadence, so abounds 
with Quacks as that Eighteenth ? Consider 
them, with their timid sentimental vaporing 
about virtue, benevolence, — the wretched Q. ack- 
squadron, Cagliostro at the head of them ! Few 
men were without quackery ; they had got to 
consider it a necessary ingredient and amalgam 
for truth. Chatham, our brave Chatham himself, 
comes down to the House, all wrapped and ban- 
daged ; he * has crawled out in great bodily 
suffering ' and so on \— forgets, says Walpole, 

234 Xectures on fbcvoce* 

that he is acting the sick man ; in the fire of 
debate, snatches his arm from the sling, and ora- 
torically swings and brandishes it ! Chatham 
himself lives in the strangest mimetic life, half* 
hero, half-quack, all along. For indeed the 
world is full of dupes ; and you have to gain the 
world's suffrage 1 How the duties of the world 
will be done in that case, what quantities of 
error, which means failure, which means sorrow 
and misery, to some and to many, will gradually 
accumulate in all provinces of the world's busi- 
ness, w^e need not compute. 

It seems to me, you lay 3^our finger here on 
the heart of the world's maladies, when ^you call 
it a Sceptical World. An insincere worsld ; a^ 
godless untruth of a world ! It is out of this, as I 
consider, that the whole tribe of social pesti-_^ 
lences, French Revolutions, Chartisms, and what'' 
not, have derived their being, — their chief neces- ■ 
si-y to be. This must alter. Till this alter, 
no hing can beneficially alter. My one hope of 
th-s world, my inexpugnable consolation in look- 
ing at the miseries of the world, is that this is 
altering. Here and there one does now find a man 
who knows, as of old, that this world is a Truth, 
and no Plausibility and Falsity ; ti^at he himself 
is alive, not dead or paralytic ; and that the 
world is alive, instinct with Godhood, beautiful 
and awful, even as in the beginning of days ! 
One man once knowing this, many men, all men, 
must by and by come to know it. \i lies there 
clear, for whosoever will take the spectacles off his 
eyes and honestly look, to know ! For such a 
man the Unbelieving Century, with its unblessed 

^be Ibero as /iRan of ILetters. 235 

Products, is already past : a new century is 
already come. The old unblessed Products and 
Performances, as solid as they look, are Phan- 
tasms, preparing speedily to vanish. To this 
and the other noisy, very great-looking Simula- 
crum with the whole world huzzahing at his 
heels, he can say, composedly stepping aside : 
Thou art not true; thou art not extant, only 
semblant ; go thy way ! — Yes, hollow Formulism, 
gross Benthamism, and other unheroic atheistic 
Insincerity is visibly and even rapidly declining. 
An unbelieving Eighteenth Century is but an 
exception, — such as now and then occurs. I 
prophesy that the world will once more become 
sincere; a believing world; with many Heroes 
m it, a heroic world ! It will then be a victorious 
world ; never till then. 

Or indeed what of the world and its victories ? 
Men speak too much about the world. Each 
■one of us here, let the world go how it will, and 
be victorious or not victorious, has he not a Life 
of his own to lead ? One Life ; a Httle gleam of 
Time between two Eternities ; no second chance 
to us forevermore ! It were well for jis to live 
not as fools and simulacra, but as wise and 
realities. The world's being saved will not save 
us ; nor the world's being lost destroy us. We 
should look to ourselves : there is great merit 
here in the ' duty of staying at home ' ! And, on 
the whole, to say truth, I never heard of ' worlds' 
being ' saved ' in any other way. That mania of 
saving worlds is itself a piece of the Eighteenth 
Century with its windy sentimentalism. Let us 
not follow it too far. For the saving of the world 

236 Xectures on fbctoce. 

I will trust confidently to the Maker of the world; 
and look a little to my own saving, which I am 
more competent to ! — In brief, for the world's 
sake, and for our own, we will rejoice greatly that 
Scepticism, Insincerity, Mechanical Atheism, 
with all their poison-dews, are going, and as good 
as gone. — 

Now it was under such conditions, in those 
times of Johnson, that our Men of Letters had to 
live. Times in which there was properly no truth 
in life. Old truths had fallen nigh dumb ; the 
new lay yet hidden, not trying to speak. That 
Man's Life here below was a Sincerity anc^ Fact, 
and would forever continue such, no new inti- 
mation, in that dusk of the world, had yet" dawned. 
No intimation ; not even any French Revolution, 
— which we define to be a Truth once more, 
though a Truth clad in hellfire ! How different 
was the Luther's pilgrimage, with its assured 
goal, from the Johnson's, girt with mere tradi|;ions, 
suppositions, grown now incredible, unintelli- 
gible ! Mahomet's Formulas were of ' wp6d 
waxed and oiled,' and could be hurntoMX. of one's 
way : poor Johnson's were far more difficult tc? 
burn.^The strong man will ever find work, which 
means difficulty, pain, to the full measure of his 
strength. But to make-out a victory, in those 
circumstances of our poor Hero as Man of 
Letters, was perhaps more difficult than in any. 
Not obstruction, disorganization. Bookseller Os- 
borne and Fourpence-halfpenny a day ; not this 
alone ; but the light of his own soul was taken 
from him. No landmark on the Earth ; and, alas, 
what is that to having no loadstar in the Heaven 1 

XLbc 1bero as /IRan of Xetters. 237 

We need not wonder that none of those Three 
men rose to victory. That they fought truly is the 
highest praise. With a mournful sympathy we will 
contemplate, if not three living victorious Heroes, 
as I said, the Tombs of three fallen Heroes ! 
They fell for us too ; making a way for us. 
There are the mountains which they hurled 
abroad in their confused War of the Giants ; 
under which, their strength and life spent, they 
now lie buried. 

I have already written of these three Literary 
Heroes, expressly or incidentally ; what I suppose 
is known to most of you ; what need not be 
spoken or written a second time. They concern 
us here as the singular Prophets of that singu- 
^lar age ; for such they virtually were ; and the 
aspect they and their world exhibit, under this 
point of view, might lead us into reflections 
enough I I call them, all three. Genuine Men 
moVe or less ; faithfully, for most part uncon- 
sciously, struggling, to be genuine, and plant 
themselves on the everlasting truth of things. 
This to a degree that eminently distinguishes them 
from the poor artificial mass of their contempo- 
raries ; and renders them worthy to be considered 
as Speakers, in some measure, of the everlasting 
truth, as Prophets in that age of theirs. By 
Nature herself a noble necessity was laid on 
them to be so. They were men of such mag- 
nitude that they could not live on unrealities, — 
clouds, froth and all inanity gave-way under 
them : there was no footing for them but on firm 
earth ; no rest or regular motion for them, if 

238 , %cctwxc6 on Ibcroes. 

they got not footing there. To a certain extent, 
they were Sons of Nature once more in an age of 
Artifice ; once more, Original Men. 

As for Johnson, I have always considered him 
to be, by nature, one of our great English souls, 
A strong and noble man ; so much left unde- 
veloped in him to the last : in a kindlier element 
what might he not have been, — Poet, Priest, 
sovereign Ruler ! On the whole, a man mu^t not 
complain of his ' element,' of his ' time,' or the 
like ; it is a thriftless work doing so. His-time is 
bad : well then, he is there to make it better ! — 
Johnson's youth was poor, isolated, hopeless, very 
miserable. Indeed, it does not seem possible 
that, in any the favorablest outward circum- 
stances, Johnson's life could have been other than 
a painful one. The world might have had more 
of profitable 7C'ork out of him, or less ; but his 
ej^orf against the world's work could never have 
been a light one. Nature, in return for his 
nobleness, had said to him, Live in an element 
of diseased sorrow. Nay, perhaps the sorrow 
and the nobleness were intimately and even in- 
separably connected with each other. At all 
events, poor Johnson had to go about girt with 
continual hypochondria, physical and spiritual 
pain. Like a Hercules with the burning Nessus'- 
shirt on him, which shoots- in on him dull incur- 
able misery : the Nessus'-shirt not to be stript-ofi^, 
which is his own natural skin ! In this manner 
/le had to live. Figure him there, with his scrof- 
ulous diseases, with his great greedy heart, and 
unspeakable chaos of thoughts ; stalking mourn- 
Cul as a stranger in this Earth ; eagerly devouring 

^be Ibero as /ffi>an of Xctters, 239 

what spiritual thing he could come at : school- 
languages and other merely grammatical stuff, if 
there were nothing better ! The largest soul that 
was in all England ; and provision made for it of 
*fourpence-half penny a day.' Yet a giant in- 
vincible soul ; a true man's. One remembers 
always that story of the shoes at Oxford : the 
rough, V seamy-face, rawboned College Servitor 
stklking about, in winter-season, with his shoes 
worn-out ; how the charitable Gentleman Com- 
moner secretly places a new pair at his door ; and 
the rawboned Servitor, lifting them, looking at 
them near, with his dim eyes, with what thought, 
— pitches them out of window ! Wet reet, mud, 
frost, hunger or what you will ; but not beggary : 
we cannot stand beggary ! Rude stubborn self- 
help here; a whole world of squalor, rudeness, 
confused misery and want, yet of nobleness and 
manfulness withal. It is a type of the man's life, 
this pitching-away of the shoes. An original 
man; — not a secondhand, borrowing or begging 
man. Let us stand on our own basis, at any 
rate ! On such shoes as we ourselves can get. 
On frost and mud, if you will, but honestly on 
that ; — on the reality and substance which Nature 
gives us, not on the semblance, on the thing she 
has given another than us ! — 

And yet with all this rugged pride of manhood 
and self-help, was there ever soul more tenderly 
affectionate, loyally submissive to what was really 
higher than he ? Great souls are always loyally 
submissive, reverent to what is over them ; only 
small mean souls are otherwise. I could not find 
a better proof of what I said the other day. That 

240 Xecturc6 on "iberoes. 

the sincere man was by nature the obedient man ; 
that only in a World of Heroes was there loyal 
Obedience to the Heroic. The essence of o?'igi?i' 
yality is not that it be new : Johnson believed alto- 
gether in the old ; he found the old oplinions 
credible for him, fit for him ; and in a right heroic 
manner lived under them. He is well worth 
study in regard to that. For we are to say that . 
Johnson was far other than a mere man of words 
and formulas ; he was a man of truths and facts. 
He stood by the old formulas ; the happier was 
it for him that he could so stand : but in all form- 
ulas that he could stand by, there needed to be 
a most genuine substance. Very curious how, in 
that poor Paper age, so barren, artificial, thick- 
quilted with Pedantries, Hearsays, the great Fact 
of this Universe glared in, forever wonderful, in- 1 
dubitable, unspeakable, divine-infernal, upon this 
man too ! How he harmonized his Formulas with 
it, how he managed at all under such circum- 
stances : that is a thing worth seeing. A thing 

* to be looked at with reverence, with pity, with 
awe.' That Church of St. Clement Danes, where 
Johnson still 7vorshipped in the era of Voltaire, is 
to me a venerable place. 

It was in the virtue of his sincerity^ of his Speak- 
ing still in some sort from the heart of Nature, 
though in the current artificial dialect, that 
Johnson w^as a Prophet. Are not all dialects 
' artificial ' ? Artificial things are not all false ; — - 
nay every true Product of Nature wall infallibly 
shape itself ; we may say all artificial things are, 
at the starting of them, true. What we call 

* Formulas ' are not in their origin bad ; they are 

XLbc 1bero ae /IBau ot Xetterg. 241 

indispensably good. Formula is method^ habi- 
tude ; found wherever man is found. Formulas 
fashion themselves as Paths do, as beaten High- 
ways, leading towards some sacred or high object, 
whither many men are bent. Consider it. One 
man, full of heartfelt earnest impulse, finds-out a 
way of doing somewhat, — were it of uttering his 
-soul's reverence for the Highest, were it but of 
fitly saluting his fellow-man. An inventor was 
needed to do that, a poet ; he has articulated the 
dim-struggling thought that dwelt in his own and 
many hearts. This is his way of doing that ; 
these are his footsteps, the beginning of a ' Path.' 
And now see ; the second man travels naturally in 
the footsteps of his foregoer ; it is the 6V7j7t'^/ meth- 
od. In the footsteps of his foregoer, yet with im- 
provements, with changes where such seem good ; 
at all events with enlargements, the Path ever 
widening itself as more travel it ; — till at last there 
is a broad Highway whereon the whole world 
may travel and drive. While there remains a 
City or Shrine, or any Reality to drive to, at the 
farther end, the Highway shall be right welcome ! 
When the City is gone, we will forsake the High- 
way. In this manner all Institutions, Practices, 
Regulated Things in the world have come into 
existence, and gone out of existence. Formulas 
all begin by being full of substance ; you may 
call them the skifi, the articulation into shape, into 
limbs and skin, of a substance that is already 
there : they had not been there otherwise. Idols, 
as we said, are not idolatrous till they become 
doubtful, empty for the worshipper's heart, Much 
as we talk against Formulas, 1 hope no one of us 

242 ^Lectures on Iberoes, 

is ignorant withal of the high significance of true 
Formulas ; that they were, and will ever be, the 
indispensablest furniture of our habitation in this 


Mark, too, how little Johnson boasts of his 
' sincerity.' He has no suspicion of his being 
particularly sincere, — of his being particularly 
anything ! A hard-struggling, weary-hearted man, 
or ' scholar ' as he calls himself, trying hard to 
get some honest livelihood in the world, not to 
starve, but to live — without stealing ! A noble 
unconsciousness is in him. He does not ' en- 
grave Truth on his watch-seal ; ' no, but he 
stands by truth, speaks by it, works and lives by 
it. Thus it ever is. Think of it once more* 
The man whom Nature has appointed to do great 
things is, first of all, furnished with that openness 
to Nature which renders him incapable of being 
i;/sincere ! To his large, open, deep-feeling heart 
Nature is a Fact : all hearsay is hearsay ; the 
unspeakable greatness of this Mystery of Life, let 
him acknowledge it or not, nay even though he 
seem to forget it or deny it, is ever present to 
him, — fearful and wonderful, on this hand and on 
that. He has a basis of sincerity ; unrecognized, 
because never questioned or capable of question. 
Mirabeau, Mahomet, Cromwell, Napoleon : all the 
Great Men I ever heard-of have this as the pri- 
mary material of them. Innumerable commonplace 
men are debating, are talking everywhere^ their 
commonplace doctrines, which they have learned 
by logic, by rote, at secondhand : to that kind of 
man all this is still nothing. He must have truth ; 
truth which he feels to be true. How shall he stand 

sibe 1bcro as /llban of JLettcrs. 243 

otherwise ? His whole soul, at all moments, in 
all ways, tells him that there is no standing. He 
is under the noble necessity of being true. 
Johnson's way of thinking about this world is not 
mine, any more than Mahomet's was : but I rec- 
ognize the everlasting element of he3.rt-smcerity 
in both ; and see with pleasure how neither of 
them remains ineffectual. Neither of them is as 
c/ia^ so\Nn ; in both of them is something which 
the seed-field will groiv. 

Johnson was a Prophet to his people ; preached 
■a Gospel to them, — as all like him always do. 
The highest Gospel he preached we may describe 
as a kind of Moral Prudence : ' in a world where 
much IS to be done, and little is to be known,' 
see how you will do it ! A thing well worth 
preaching. ' A world where much is to be done, 
and little is to be known : ' do not sink yourselves 
in boundless bottomless abysses of Doubt, of 
wretched god-forgetting Unbelief ; — you were mis- 
erable then, powerless, mad : how could you do or 
work at all ? Such Gospel Johnson preached and 
taught ; — coupled, theoretically and practically, 
with this other great Gospel, ' Clear your mind 
of Cai).t ! ' Have no trade with Cant : stand on 
the cold mud in the frosty weather, but let it be 
in your own real torn shoes : ' that will be better 
for you,^ as Mahomet says ! I call this, I call 
these two things joined together, a great Gospel, 
the greatest perhaps that was possible at that 

Johnson's Writings, which once had such cur- 
rency and celebrity, are now, as it were, disowned 
by the young generation. It is not wonderful ; 

244 Xectures on Iberoes. 

Johnson's opinions are fast becoming obsolete : 
but his style of thinking and of living, we may 
hope, will never~become obsolete. I find in John- 
son's Books the indisputablest traces of a great 
intellect and great heart ; — ever welcome,^nder 
what obstructions and perversions soever. They 
are sincere words, those of his ; he means things 
by them. A wondrous buckram style, — the best 
he could get to then ; a measured grandiloquence, 
stepping or rather stalking along in a very solemn 
way, grown obsolete now ; sometimes a tumid 
size of phraseology not in proportiqn to the con- 
tents of it : all this you will put-up with. For the 
phraseology, tumid or not, has always something 
within it. So many beautiful styles and books, 
with fiothing in them ; — a man is a maki?iCior to 
the world who writes such ! They are the avoid- 
able kind ! — Had Johnson left nothing but his 
Dictionai'}\ one might have traced there a great 
intellect, a genuine man. Looking to its clear- 
ness of definition, its general solidity, honesty, 
insight and successful method, it may be called 
the best of all Dictionaries. There is in it a kind 
of architectural nobleness ; it stands there like a 
great solid square-built edifice, finished, symmet- 
rically complete : you judge that a true Builder 
did it. 

One word, in spite of our haste, must be granted 
to poor Bozzy. He passes for a mean, inflated, 
gluttonous creature ; and was so in many senses. 
Yet the fact of his reverence for Johnson will ever 
remain noteworthy. The foolish conceited Scotch 
Laird, the most conceited man of his time, ap- 
proaching in such awestruck attitude the great 

Zbc Ibero as /Hban of Xctters, 245 

■dusty irascible Pedagogue in his mean garret 
there : it is a genuine reverence for Excellence ; 
a worship for Heroes, at a time when neither 
Heroes nor worship were surmised to exist. 
Heroes, it would seem, exist always, and a cer- 
tain worship of them ! We will also take the 
^berty to deny altogether that of the witty French- 
man, that no man is a Hero to his valet-de- 
chambre. Or if so, it is not the Hero's blame, but 
the Valet's : that his soul, namely, is a mean valet- 
soul ! He expects his Hero to advance in royal 
stage-trappings, with measured step, trains borne 
behind him, trumpets sounding before him. It 
should stand rather. No man can be a Grand- 
Mofiarque to his valet-de-chambre. Strip your 
Louis Quatorze of his king-gear, and there is left 
nothing but a poor forked raddish with a head 
fantastically carved ; — admirable to no valet. The 
Valet does not know a Hero when he sees him ! 
Alas, no : it requires a kind of Hero to do that ; 
— rand one of the world's wants, in this as in other 
senses, is for most part want of such. 

On the whole, shall we not say, that Bos well's 
admiration was well bestowed ; that he could have 
found no soul in all England so worthy of bend- 
ing down before ? Shall we not say, of this great 
mournful Johnson too, that he guided his difficult 
confused existence wisely ; led it well, like a right- 
valiant man ? That waste chaos of Authorship 
by trade; that waste chaos of Scepticism in relig- 
ion and politics, in life-tlifeory and life-practice ; 
in his poverty, in his dust and dimness, with the 
sick body and the rusty coat : he made it do for 
him, like a brave man. Not wholly without a 

246 Xecturcs on Iberoes. 

loadstar in the Eternal ; he had still a loadstar,, 
as the brave all need to have : with his ^ye set 
on that, he would change his course for nothing, 
in these confused vortices of the lower sea of 
Time. ' To the Spirit of Lies, bearing death 
' and hunger, he would in no wise strike his flag.' 
Brave old Samuel : ultimus Romanorum ! 

Of Rousseau and his Heroism 1 cannot say so 
much. He is not what I call a strong man. "A 
morbid, excitable, spasmodic man ; at best, in- 
tense rather than strong. He had not 'the talent 
of Silence,' an invaluable talent ; which few 
Frenchmen, or indeed men of any sort in these 
times, excel in ! The suffering man ought really 
' to consume his own smoke ; ' there is no good 
in emitting s7?ioke till you have made it into Jire, 
— which, in the metaphorical sense too, all smoke 
is capable of becoming ! Rousseau has not. 
depth or width, not calm force for difficulty ; the 
first characteristic of true greatness. A fun- 
damental mistake to call vehemence and rigidity 
strength ! A man is not strong who takes con- 
vulsion-fits ; though six men cannot hold him then. 
He that can walk under the heaviest weight with- 
out staggering, he is the strong man. We need 
forever, especially in these loud-shrieking days, 
to remind ourselves of that. A man who cannot 
hold his peace, till the time come for speaking and 
acting, is no right man. 

Poor Rousseau's face is to me expressive of 
him. A high but narrow contracted intensity in 
it : bony brows ; deep, strait-set eyes, in which 
there is something bewildered-looking, — bewil- 

^be Ibcro as /Hban ot Xctters. 247 

'dered, peering with lynx-eagerness. A face full 
of misery, even ignoble misery, and also of the 
antagonism against that ; something mean, ple- 
•beian there, redeemed only by intensity : the face 
of what is called a Fanatic, — a sadly contracted 
Hero ! We name him here because, with all his 
'drawbacks, and they are many, he has the first 
and 'thief characteristic of a Hero : he is heartily 
in ear^t^st. In earnest, if ever man was ; as none 
of these French Philosophers were. Nay, one 
Would say, of an earnestness too great for his 
•otherwise sensitive, rather feeble nature ; and 
which indeed in the end drove him into the 
:strangest incoherences, almost delirations. There 
had come, at last, to be a kind of madness in 
him : his lA^?iS posses sed\\\vci like demons ; hurried 
;him so about, drove him over steep places ! — 

The fault and misery of Rousseau was what we 
•easily name by a single word, Egoism; which is 
indeed the source and summary of all faults and 
miseries whatsoever. He had not perfected him- 
•self into victory over mere Desire ; a mean 
Hunger, in many sorts, was still the motive 
^principle of him. I am afraid he was a very 
vain man ; hungry for the praises of men. You 
remember Genlis's experience of him. She took 
Jean Jacques to the Theatre ; he bargaining for 
a strict incognito, — " He would not be seen there 
for the world ! " The curtain did happen never- 
theless to be drawn aside : the Pit recognized 
Jean Jacques, but took no great notice of him ! 
He expressed the bitterest indignation ; gloomed 
rail evening, spake no other than surly words. 
T-hfi glib Countess remained entirely convinced 

248 Xectures on fberoes, 

that his anger was not at being seen, but at not 
being applauded wlien seen. How the whole 
nature of the man is poisoned ; nothing but sus- 
picion, self-isolation, fierce moody ways! He 
could not live with anybody. A man of some 
rank from the country, who visited him often, and 
used to sit with him, expressing all reverence and 
affection for him, comes one day, finds Jean 
Jacques full of the sourest unintelligible humor. 
" Monsieur," said Jean Jacques, with flaming- 
eyes, " I know why you come here. You come 
to see what a poor life I lead ; how little is in my 
poor pot that is boiling there. Well, look inta 
the pot ! There is half a pound of meat, one 
carrot and three onions ; that is all : go and tell 
the whole world that, if you like. Monsieur ! " — • 
A man of this sort was far gone. The whole 
world got itself supplied with anecdotes, for light 
laughter, for a certain theatrical interest, from 
these perversions and contortions of poor Jean 
Jacques. Alas, to him they were not laughing or 
theatrical ; too real to him ! The contortions of 
a dying gladiator : the crowded amphitheatre 
looks-on with entertainment ; but the gladiator is 
in agonies and dying. 

And yet this Rousseau, as we say, with his 
passionate appeals to Mothers, with his Cojitraf- 
social, with his celebrations of Nature, even of 
savage life in Nature, did once more touch upon 
Reality, struggle towards Reality ; was doing the 
function of a Prophet to his Time. As he could^ 
and as the Time could ! Strangely through all 
ihat defacement, degradation and almost mad- 
ness- there is in the inmost heart of poor Rous 

Zbc 1bero as /Ilban ot Xetters. 


seau a spark of real heavenly fire. Once more, 
out of the element of that withered mocking 
Philosophism, Scepticism and Persiflage, there 
has arisen in this man the ineradicable feeling 
and knowledge that this Life of ours is true ; not 
a Scepticism, Theorem, or Persiflage, but a Fact, 
an awful Reality. Nature had made that revela- 
tion to him ; had ordered him to speak it out. 
He got it spoken out ; if not well and clearly, 
then ill and dimly, — as clearly as he could. Nay 
what are all errors and perversities of his, even 
those stealings of ribbons, aimless confused 
miseries and vagabondisms, if we will interpret 
them kindly, but the blinkard dazzlement and 
staggerings to and fro of a man sent on an errand 
he is too weak for, by a path he cannot yet find "i 
Men are led by strange ways. One should have 
tolerance for a man, hope of him ; leave him to 
try yet what he will do. While Ufe lasts, hope 
lasts for every man. 

Of Rousseau's literary talents, greatly cele- 
brated still among his countrymen, I do not say 
much. His Books, like himself, are what I call 
unhealthy ; not the good sort of Books. There 
is a sensuality in Rousseau. Combined with such 
an intellectual gift as his, it makes pictures of a 
certain gorgeous attractiveness : but they are not 
genuinely poetical. Not white sunlight ; some- 
thing ^/^r^/zV / a kind of rosepink, artificial bediz- 
enment. It is frequent, or rather it is universal, 
among the French since his time. Madame de 
Stael has something of it ; St. Pierre ; and down 
onwards to the present astonishing convulsionary 
* Literature of Desperation,' it is everywhere 

250 Xecturc0 on Ibcroes. 

abundant. That same rosepink is not the right 
hue. Look at a Shakspeare, at a Goethe, even at 
a Walter Scott ! He who has once seen into this, 
has seen the difference of the True from the 
Sham-True, and will discriminate them ever after- 

We had to observe in Johnson how much good 
a Prophet, under all disadvantages and disorgan- 
izations, can accomplish for the world. In Rous- 
seau we are called to look rather at the fearful 
amount of evil which, under such disorganization, 
may accompany the good. Historically it is a 
most pregnant spectacle, that of Rousseau. 
Banished into Paris garrets, in the gloomy com- 
pany of his own Thoughts and Necessities there ; 
driven from post to pillar ; fretted, exasperated 
till the heart of him went mad, he had grown to 
feel deeply that the world was not his friend nor 
the world's law. It was expedient, if anyway 
possible, that such a man should 7iot have been 
set in flat hostility with the world. He could be 
cooped into garrets, laughed at as a maniac, left 
to starve like a wild-beast in his cage ; — but he 
could not be hindered from setting the world on 
fire. The French Revolution found its Evan- 
gelist in Rousseau. His semi-delirious specula- 
tions on the miseries of civilized life, the prefer- 
ability of the savage to the civilized, and such- 
like, helped well to produce a whole delirium in 
France generally. True, you may well ask, What 
could the world, the governors of the world, do 
with such a man ? Difficult to say what the 
governors of the world could do with him ! What 
he could do with them is unhappily clear enough, 

Cbe 1bero as ^ftan of Xcttcrs. 251 

— guillotine a great many of them ! Enough now 
of Rousseau. 

It was a curious phenomenon, in the withered, 
unbelieving, secondhand Eighteenth Century, that 
of a Hero starting up, among the artificial paste- 
board figures and productions, in the guise of a 
Robert Burns. Like a little well in the rocky 
desert places, — like a sudden splendor of Heaven 
in the artificial Vauxhall ! People knew not what 
to make of it. They took it for a piece of the 
Vauxhall fire- work ; alas, it let itself be so taken, 
though struggling half-blindly, as in bitterness of 
death, against that ! Perhaps no man had such 
a false reception from his fellow-men. Once more 
a very wasteful life-drama was enacted under the 

The tragedy of Burns's life is known to all of 
you. Surely we may say, if discrepancy between 
place held and place merited constitute perverse- 
ness of lot fpr a man, no lot could be more per- 
verse than Burns's. Among those secondhand 
acting-figures, mimes for most part, of the Eight- 
eenth Century, once more a giant Original Man ; 
onfe of those men who reach down to the peren- 
nial Deeps, who take rank with the Heroic among 
men : and he was born in a poor Ayrshire hut. 
The largest soul of all the British lands came 
among us in the shape of a hard-handed Scottish 

His Father, a poor toiling man, tried various 
things ; did not succeed in any"^ was involved in 
continual difficulties. The Steward, Factor as 
the Scotch call him, , used to send letters and 

2 52 Xectures on &evDC5, 

threatenings, Burns says, 'which threw us all 
into tears.' The brave, hard-toiling, hard-suffer- 
ing Father, his brave heroine of a wife; and 
those children, of whom Robert was one ! In 
this Earth, so wide otherwise, no shelter for 
them. The letters ' threw us all into tears : ' 
figure it. The brave Father, I say always ; — a 
silent Hero and Poet ; without whom the son had 
never been a speaking one ! Burns's School 
master came afterwards to London, learnt what 
good society was ; but declares that in no meet- 
ing of men did he ever enjoy better discourse 
than at the hearth of this peasant. And his 
poor ' seven acres of nursery-ground,' — not that, 
nor the miserable patch of clay-farm, nor any- 
thing he tried to get a living by, would prosper 
with him ; he had a sore unequal battle all his 
days. But he stood to it valiantly ; a wise, faith- 
ful, unconquerable man ; — swallowing-down how 
many sore sufferings daily in silence ; fighting 
like an unseen Hero, — nobody publishing news- 
paper paragraphs about his nobleness ; voting 
pieces of plate to him ! However, he was not 
lost ; nothing is lost. Robert is there ; the out- 
come of him, — and indeed of many generations 
of such as him. 

This Burns appeared under every disadvan- 
tage : uninstructed, poor, born only to hard man- 
ual toil ; and writing, when it came to that, in 
a rustic special dialect, known only to a small 
province of the country he lived in. Had he 
written, even what he did write, in the general 
language of England, I doubt not he had al- 
ready become universally recognized as being, or 

Zbc Ibero as jfllban ot Xetters. 253 

capable to be, one of our greatest men. That he 
should have tempted so many to penetrate through 
the rough husk of that dialect of his, is proof 
that there lay something far from common within 
it. He has gained a certain recognition, and is 
continuing to do so over all quarters of our wide 
Saxon world : wheresoever a Saxon dialect is 
spoken, it begins to be understood, by personal 
inspection of this and the other, that one of 
the most considerable Saxon men of the Eight- 
eenth century was an Ayrshire Peasant named 
Robert Burns. Yes, I will say, here too was a 
piece of the right Saxon stuff : strong as the Harz- 
rock, rooted in the depths of the world ; — rock, 
yet with wells of living softness in it ! A wild 
impetuous whirlwind of passion and faculty slum- 
bered quiet there; such heavenly ?;ze76'^)' dwell- 
ing in the heart of it. A noble rough genuine- 
ness ; homely, rustic, honest ; true simplicity of 
strength ; with its lightning- fire, with its soft 
dewy pity ; — like the old Norse Thor, the Peas- 
ant-god ! — 

Burns's Brother Gilbert, a man of much sense 
and worth, has told me that Robert, in his young 
days, in spite of their hardship, was usually the 
gayest of speech ; a fellow of infinite frolic, 
laughter, sense and heart ; far pleasanter to hear 
there, stript cutting peats in the bog, or suchlike, 
than he ever afterwards knew him. I can well 
believe it. This basis of mirth (^''fo?id gaina7-d,' 
as old Marquis Mirabeau calls it), a primal- 
element of sunshine and joyfulness, coupled with 
his other deep and earnest qualities, is one of 
the most attractive characteristics of Burns. A 

2 54 Xcctures on Iberoes. 

large fund of Hope dwells in him ; spite of his 
tragical history, he is not a mourning man. He 
shakes his sorrows gallantly aside ; bounds forth 
victorious over them. It is as the lion shaking 
' dew-drops from his mane ; ' as the swift-bound- 
ing horse, that laughs at the shaking of the spear. 
— But indeed, Hope, Mirth, of the sort like 
Burns's, are they not the outcome properly of 
warm generous affection, — such as is the begin- 
ning of all to every man ? 

You would think it strange if I called Burns 
the most gifted British soul we had in all that 
century of his : and yet I believe the day is com- 
ing when there will be little danger in saying so. 
His writings, all that he //?V/ under such obstruc- 
tions, are only a poor fragment of him. Pro- 
fessor Stewart remarked very justly, what indeed 
is true of all Poets good for much, that his poetry 
was not any particular faculty ; but the general 
result of a naturally vigorous original mind ex- 
pressing itself in that way. Burns's gifts, ex- 
pressed in conversation, are the theme of all that 
ever heard him. All kinds of gifts : from the 
gracefulest utterances of courtesy, to the highest 
fire of passionate speech ; loud floods of mirth, 
soft wailings of affection, laconic emphasis, clear 
piercing insight ; all was in him. Witty duch- 
esses celebrate him as a man whose speech ' led 
them off their feet.' This is beautiful : but still 
more beautiful that which Mr. Lockhart has 
recorded, which I have more than once alluded 
to. How the waiters and ostlers at inns would get 
out of bed, and come crowding to hear this man 
speak ! Waiters and ostlers : — they too were 

XLbc tbero a3 /Ilban ot Xettere. 


men, and here was a man ! I have heard much 
about his speech ; but one of the best things I 
ever heard of it was, last year, from a venerable 
gentleman long familiar with him. That it was 
speech distinguished by always having something 
in it. " He spoke rather little than much," this 
old man told me ; " sat rather silent in those 
early days, as in the company of persons above 
him ; and always when he did speak, it was to 
throw new light on the matter." I know not 
•why any one should ever speak otherwise ! — 
But if we look at his general force of soul, his 
healthy robusf?iess everyway, the rugged down- 
rightness, penetration, generous valor and man- 
fulness that was in him, — where shall we readily 
find a better-gifted man .? 

Among the great men of the Eighteenth Cen- 
tury, I sometimes feel as if Burns might be found 
to resemble INIirabeau more than any other. 
They differ widely in vesture ; yet look at them 
intrinsically. There is the same burly thick- 
necked strength of body as of soul ; — built, in 
both cases, on what the old Marquis calls 2ifo?id 
gaillard. By nature, by course of breeding, 
indeed by nation, Mirabeau has much more of 
bluster; a noisy, forward, unresting man. But 
the characteristic of Mirabeau too is veracity and 
sense, power of true ijtsight, superiority of vision. 
The thing that he says is worth remembering. 
It is a flash of insight into some object or other ; 
so do both these men speak. The same raging 
passions ; capable too in both of manifesting 
themselves as the tenderest noble affections. 
Wit, wild laughter, energy, directness, sincerity: 

256 OLecturea on iberoes. 

these were in both. The types of the two men 
are not dissimilar. Burns too could have 
governed, debated in National Assemblies ; poli- 
ticized, as few could. Alas, the courage which 
had to exhibit itself in capture of smuggling 
schooners in the Sol way Frith ; in keeping silence 
over so much, where no good speech, but only 
inarticulate rage was possible : this might have 
bellowed forth Ushers de Breze and the like ; and 
made itself visible to all men, in managing of 
kingdoms, in ruling of great ever-memorable 
epochs ! But they said to him reprovingly, his 
Official Superiors said, and wrote : ' You are to 
work, not think.' Of your thinkwg-iTiculty, the 
greatest in this land, we have no need ; you are 
to gauge beer there ; for that only are you wanted. 
Very notable ; — and worth mentioning, though 
we know what is to be said and answered ! As 
if Thought, Power of Thinking, were not, at all 
times, in all places and situations of the world, 
precisely the thing that was wanted. The fatal 
man, is he not always the 7/;/thinking man, the 
man who cannot think and see ; but only^rQpe, 
and hallucinate, and missee the nature of the 
thing he works with ? He missees it, misfal^es it 
as we say ; takes it for one thing, and it is 
another thing, — and leaves him standing like a 
Futility there ! He is the fatal man ; unutter- 
ably fatal, put in the high places of men. — 
" Why complain of this ? " say some : " Strength 
is mournfully denied its arena ; that was true 
from of old." Doubtless ; and the worse for 
the arena, answer I ! Complaining profits little ; 
stating of the truth may profit. That a Europe, 

^be fbero as /iftan ot %cttcvs* 257 

with its French Revolution just breaking out, 
finds no need of a Burns except for gauging 
beer, — is a thing I, for one, cannot rejoice at !^ 
Once more we have to say here, that the chief 
quality of Burns is the sincerity of him. So in 
his Poetr^, so in his Life. The song he sings is 
not of fantasticalities ; it is of a thing felt, really 
there ; the prime merit of this, as of all in him, and 
of his Life generally, is truth. The Life of Burns 
is what we may call a great tragic sincerity. A 
sort of savage sincerity, — not cruel, far from that ; 
but wild, wrestling naked with the truth of things. 
In that sense, there is something of the savage 
in alhgreat men. 

Hjcro-worship, — Odin, Burns ? Well ; these 
Men of Letters too were not without a kind of 
Hero-worship : but what a strange condition has 
that got into now ! The waiters and ostlers of 
Scotch inns, prying about the door, eager to catch 
any word that fell from Burns, were doing un- 
conscious reverence to the Heroic. Johnson had 
his J3o3well for worshipper. Rousseau had wor- 
shippers enough ; princes calling on him in his 
mean garret ; the great, the beautiful doing rev- 
erence to the poor moonstruck man. For him- 
self a most portentous contradiction ; the two 
ends of his life not to be brought into harmony. 
He sits at the tables of grandees ; and has 
to copy music for his own living. He cannot 
even get his music copied. " By dint of dining 
out," says he, " I run the risk of dying by starva- 
tion at home." For his worshippers too a most 
questionable thing ! If doing Hero-worship well 
or badly be the test of vital wellbeing or illbeing 

258 Xectures on Ibcrocs. 

to a generation, can we say that these generations 
are very first-rate ? — And yet our heroic Men of 
Letters do teach, govern, are kings, priests, or 
what you Hke to call them ; intrinsically there is 
no preventing "it by any means whatever. The 
world has to obey him who thinks and sees in the 
world. The world can alter the manner of that ; 
can either have it as blessed continuous summer 
sunshine, or as unblessed black thunder and 
tornado, — with unspeakable difference of profit 
for the world ! The manner of it is very alterable ; 
the matter and fact of it is not alterable by any 
power under the sky. Light; or, failing that, 
lightning : the world can take its choice. J^t 
whether we call an Odin god, proph-et, priest, Ofe 
what we call him ; but whether we believe ^fehe 
word he tells us : there it all lies. If i^ be a 
true word, we shall have to believe it ; believing 
it, we shall have to do it. What nai7ie or welcome 
we give him or it, is a point . that concerns our- 
selves mainly. //, the new Truth, new deeper 
revealing of the Secret of this Universe, is verily 
of the nature of a message from on high ; and 
must and will have itself obeyed. — 

My last remark is on that notablest phasis of 
Burns's history, ^his visit to Edinburgh. Often 
it seems to me as if his demeanor there were 
the highest proof he gave of what a fund of 
worth and genuine manhood was in him. If we 
think of it, few heavier burdens could be laid on 
the strength of a man. So sudden ; all common 
Lionisin, which ruins innumerable men, was as 
nothing to this. It is as if Napoleon had been 
made a king of, not gradually, but at once from 

Heroes 7 


^be 1bero as /IRan ot ^Letters, 259 

the Artillery Lieutenancy in the Regiment La 
F^r-^. Burns, still only in his twenty-seventh 
year, is no longer even a ploughman ; he is fly- 
ing to the West Indies to escape disgrace and a 
jail. This month he is a ruined peasant, his wages 
seven pounds a year, and these gone from him : 
next month he is in the blaze of rank and beauty, 
handing down jewelled Duchesses to dinner ; 
the cynosurd of all eyes ! Adversity is some- 
time'* hard upon a man ; but for one man wha 
can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that 
win stand adversity. I admire much the way in 
wh)':h Burns met all this. Perhaps no man one 
could point out, was ever so sorely tried, and so 
•l:t';le forgot himself. Tranquil, unastonished ; 
not abashed, not inflated, neither awkwardness 
nor affectation : he feels that /le there is the man 
P.obert Burns ; that the ' rank is but the guinea- 
stamp ; ' that the celebrity is but the candle-light 
which will show zc/icjf man, not in the least make 
him a better or other man ! Alas, it may readily, 
unless he look to it, make him a worse man ; a 
wretched inflated windbag, — inflated till he hurst 
and become a dead lion ; for whom, as some one 
has said, ' there is no resurrection of the body ; ' 
worse than a living dog ! — Burns is admirable 

And yet, alas, as I have observed elsewhere, 
these Lion-hunters were the ruin and death of 
Burns. It was they that rendered it impossible 
for him to live ! They gathered round him in 
his Farm ; hindered his industry ; no place was 
remote enough from them. He could not get 
his Lionism forgotten, honestly as he was dis- 

26o %cct\xxcs on Iberoes. 

posed to do so. He falls into discontents, into 
miseries, faults ; the world getting ever more 
desolate for him ; health, character, peace of mind 
all gone ; — solitary enough now. It is tragical to 
think of ! These men came but to see him ; it 
was out of no sympathy with him, nor no hatred 
to him. They came to get a little amusement : 
they got their amusement ; — and the Hero's life 
went for it ! 

Richter says, in the Island of Sumatra there is 
a kind of ' Light-chafers,' large Fire-flies, which 
people stick upon spits, and illuminate the ways 
with at night. Persons of condition can thus 
travel with a pleasant radiance, which they much 
admire. Great honor to the Fire-flies ! But — ! — 

Zbc Ibcro as Iking. 261 



We come now to the last form of Heroism ; 
that which we call Kingship. The Commander 
over Men ; he to whose will our wills are to be 
i^ubordinated, and loyally surrender themselves, 
and find their welfare in doing so, may be reck- 
oned the most important of Great Men. He is 
practically the summary for us of a// the various 
figures of Heroism ; Priest, Teacher, whatsoever 
of earthly or of spiritual dignity we can fancy to 
reside in a man, embodies itself here, to command 
over us, to furnish us with constant practical 
teaching, to tell us for the day and hour what we 
are to do. He is called Rex, Regulator, Roi . our 
own name is still better ; King, Kdn?ii?ig, which 
means C^7//-ning Able-man. 

Numerous considerations, pointing towards 
deep, questionable, and indeed unfathomable 
regions, present themselves here : on the most of 
which we must resolutely for the present forbear 
to speak at all. As Burke said that perhaps fair 
Trial by Jury \v2i^ the soul of Government, and 
that all legislation, administration, parliamentary 
debating, and the rest of it, went on, in * order to 

262 ^Lectures on fbcvoce. 

bring twelve impartial men into a jury-box ; ' — so, 
by mucli stronger reason, may I say here, that the 
finding of your Ad/eman and getting him invested 
with the symbols of ability^ with dignity, worship 
(7£/^rM-ship), royalty, kinghood, or whatever we 
call it, so that he may actually have room to 
guide according to his faculty of doing it, — is the 
business, well or ill accomplished, of all social 
procedure whatsoever in this world ! Hustings- 
speeches, Parliamentary motions, Reform Bills, 
French Revolutions, all mean at heart this ; or 
else nothing. Find in any country the Ablest 
Man that exists there ; raise ///;;/ to the supreme 
place, and loyally reverence him : you have a 
perfect government for that country,; no ballot- 
box, parliamentary eloquence, voting, constitution- 
building, or other machinery whatsoever can im- 
prove it a whit. It is in the perfect state ; an 
ideal countr}'. The Ablest Man ; he means also 
the truest-hearted, justest, the Noblest Man : 
what he tells us to do must be precisely the wisest, 
fittest, that we could anywhere or anyhow learn; 
- — the thing w^hich it will in all ways behove us, with 
right loyal thankfulness, and nothing doubting, 
to do ! Our domg and life were then, so far as gov- 
ernment could regulate it, well regulated; that 
were the ideal of constitutions. 

Alas, we know very well that Ideals can never 
be completely embodied in practice. Ideals must 
ever lie a very great way off ; and we will right 
thankfully content ourselves with any not intoler- 
able approximation thereto ! Let no man, as 
Schiller says, too querulously ' measure by a 
scale of perfection the meagre product of reality * 

Zbc 1bero as iKinQ. 263 

in this poor world of ours. We will esteem him 
no wise man ; we will esteem him a sickly, dis- 
contented, foolish man. And yet, on the other 
hand, it is never to be forgotten that Ideals do 
exist ; that if they be not approximated to at all, 
the whole matter goes to wreck ! Infallibly. No 
bricklayer builds a wall /^r/?r//)' perpendicular, 
mathematically this is not possible ; a certain 
degree of perpendicularity suffices him, and he, 
like a good bricklayer, who must have done with 
his job, leaves it so. And yet if he sway foo 
much from the perpendicular ; above all, if he 
throw plummet and level quite away from him, 
and pile brick on brick heedless, just as it comes 
to hand — ! Such bricklayer, I think, is in a bad 
way. * He has forgotten himself ; but the Law of 
Gravitation does not forget to act on him ; he 
and his wall rush-down into confused welter of 
ruin ! — 

This is the history of all rebellions, French 
Revolutions, social explosions in ancient or 
modern times. You have put the too 6>/able 
]\Ian at the head of affairs ! The too ignoble, 
unvaliant, fatuous man. You have forgotten 
that there is any rule, or natural necessity what- 
ever, of putting the Able Man there. Brick must 
lie on brick as it may and can. Unable Simula- 
crum of Ability, quack, in a word, must adjust 
himself with quack, in all manner of administra- 
tion of human things ; — which accordingly lie 
unadministered, fermenting into unmeasured 
masses of failure, of indigent misery : in the 
outward, and in the inward or spiritual, miserable 
millions stretch-out the hand for their due supply, 

264 Xectures on Iberoes. 

and it is not there. Tlie ' law of gravitation * 
acts ; Nature's laws do none of them forget to 
act. The miserable millions burst-forth into 
Sansculottism, or some other sort of madness ; 
bricks and bricklayer lie as a faj:al chaos ! — 

Much sorry stuff, written some Ijundred years 
ago or more, about the ' Divine right of Kings,' 
moulders unread now in the Public Libraries of 
this country. Far be it from us to disturb the 
calm process by which it is disappearing harm- 
lessly from the earth, in those repositories ! At 
the same time, not to let the immense rubbish go 
without leaving us, as it ought, some soul of it 
behind — I will say that it did mean something ; 
something true, which it is important for us and 
all men to keep in mind. To assert that in what- 
ever man you chose to lay hold of (by this or the 
other plan of clutching at him); and clapt a 
round piece of metal on the head of, and called 
King, — there straightway came to reside a' divine 
virtue, so that he became a kind of god, and a 
Divinity inspired him with faculty and right to 
rule over you to all lengths : this, — what can we 
do with this but leave it to rot silently in the 
Public Libraries.^ But I will say withal, and 
that is what these Divine-right men meant. That 
in Kings, and in all human Authorities, and re- 
lations that men god-created can form among 
each other, there is verily either a Divine Rigllt 
or else a Diabolic Wrong ; one or the other of 
these two ! For it is false altogether, what the 
last Sceptical Century taught us, that this world 
is a steam-engine. There is a God in this world ; 
and a God's-sanction, or else the violation of su(?h, 

^be tbero as Iking. 265 

does look-out from all ruling and obedience, from 
all moral acts of men. There is no act more 
moral between men than that of rule and obe- 
dience. Woe to him that claims obedience when 
it is not due ; woe to him that refuses it when it is ! 
God's law is in that, I say, however the Parch- 
ment-laws may run : there is a Divine Right or 
else a Diabolic Wrong at the heart of every 
claim that one man makes upon another. 

It can do none of us harm to reflect on this : 
in all the relations of life it will concern us ; in 
Loyalty and Royalty, the highest of these. I 
esteem the modern error. That all goes by self- 
interest and the checking and balancing of greedy 
knaveries, and that, in short, there is nothing 
divine w^iatever in the association of men, a 
^till more despicable error, natural as it is to an 
unbelieving century, than that of a ' divine right' 
in people called Kings. I say. Find me the true 
Kojuiing, King, or Able-man, and he has a divine 
right over me. That we knew in some tolerable 
measure how to find him, and that all men were 
ready to acknowledge his divine right when found.: 
this is precisely the healing which a sick world 
is everywhere, in these ages, seeking after ! The 
true King, as guide of the practical, has ever 
something of the Pontiff in him, — guide of the 
spiritual, from which all practice has its rise. 
This too is a true saying. That the King is head 
of the Chi'rch. — But we will leave the Polemic 
stuff of a dead century to lie quiet on its book- 

Certainlv it is a fearful business, that of hav- 

266 Xectures on 1beroc6. 

ing your Able-man to seek^ and not knowing in 
what manner to proceed about it ! That is the 
world's sad predicament in these times of ours. 
They are times of revolution, and have long been. 
The bricklayer with his bricks, no longer heedful 
of plummet or the law of gravitation, have top- 
pled, tumbled, and it all welters as we see ! But 
the beginning of it was not the French Revolu- 
tion ; that is rather the e?id, we can hope. It 
were truer to say, the beginning was three cen- 
.turies farther back : in the Reformation of Luther. 
That the thing which still called itself Christian 
Church had become^a Falsehood, and brazenly 
went about pi;etending to pardon men's sins 
for metallic coined money, and to do much else 
which in the eVerlasting truth of Nature it did 
not now do : here lay the vital malady. The in-^ 
ward being wrong, all outward went ever more 
and more wrong. Belief died away ; all was 
Doubt, Disbelief. The builder cast away his 
plummet ; said to himself, " What is gravitation t 
Brick lies on brick there ! " Alas, does it not 
still sound strange to many of us, the assertion 
that there is a God's truth in the business of god- 
created men ; that all is not a kind of grimace, 
an ' expediency,' diplomacy, one knows not 
what ! — 

From that first necessary assertion of Luther's, 
'* You, self-styled Papa^ you are no Father in 
God at all ; you are — a Chimera, whom I know 
not how to name in polite language ! '^-^-from 
that onwards to the shout which rose round 
Camille Desmoulins in the Palais-Royal, ^^ Aux 
armesl^* when the people had bursSiip^^ftgainst 

'ilbe 1bero ae Iking. 267 

all manner of Chimeras, — I find a natural his- 
torical sequence. That shout too, so frightful, 
half-infernal, was a great matter. Once more 
the voice of awakened nations , — starting con- 
fusedly, as out of nightmare, as out of death- 
sleep, into some dim feeling that Life was real ; 
that God's-world was not an expediency and 
diplomacy ! Infernal ^ — yes, since they would 
not have it otherwise. Infernal, since not 
celestial or terrestrial ! Hollowness, insincerity 
has to cease ; sincerity of some sort Itas t'o begin. 
Cost what it may, reigns of terror, , horrors of 
French Revolution or what else, we have to 
return to truth. Here is a Truth, as I' said: a 
Truth clad in hellfire, since they would not but 
have it so ! — 

A common theory among considerable parties 
of men in England and elsewhere used to be, 
that the French Nation had, in those days, as it 
were gone mad ; that the French Revolution was 
a general act of insanity, a temporary conversion 
of France and large sections of the world into a 
kind of Bedlam. The Event had risen and 
raged ; but was a madness and nonentity, — gone 
now happily into the region of Dreams and the 
Picturesque ! — To such comfortable philosophers, 
the Three Days of July 1830 must have 
been a surprising phenomenon. Here is the 
French Nation risen again, in musketry and death- 
struggle, out shooting and being shot, to make that 
same mad French Revolution good ! The sons 
and grandsons of those men, it would seem, 
persist in the enterprise : they do not disown it \ 
they will have it made good ; will have themselves 

268 Xectures on Ijeroes* 

shot, if it be not made good ! To philosophers 
who had made-up their Ufe-system on that 
* madness ' quietus, no phenomenon could be 
more alarming. Poor Niebuhr, they say, the 
Prussian Professor and Historian, fell broken- 
hearted in consequence ; sickened, if we can 
believe it, and died of the Three Days ! It was 
surely not a very heroic death ; — little better than 
Racine's, dying because Louis Fourteenth looked 
sternly on him once. The world had stood some 
considerable shocks, in its time ; might have 
been expected to survive the Three Days too, 
and be found turning on its axis after even them ! 
The Three Days told all mortals that the old 
French Revolution, mad as it might look, was 
not a transitory ebullition of Bedlam, but a 
genuine product of this Earth where we all live ; 
that it was verily a Fact, and that the world in 
general would do well everywhere to regard it 
as such. 

Truly, without the French Revolution, one 
would not know what to make of an age like t{iis 
at all. We will hail the French Revolution, "as 
shipwrecked mariners might the sternest rock, in 
a world otherwise all of baseless sea and waves. 
A true Apocalypse, though a terrible one, to this 
false withered artificial time ; testifying once more 
that Nature is //r/^rrnatural ; if not divine, then 
diabolic ; that Semblance is not Reality ; that it 
has to become Reality, or the world will take-fire 
under it, — burn // into what it is, namely Nothing ! 
Plausibility has ended ; empty Routine has ended ; 
much has ended. This, as with a Trump of 
Doom, has been proclaimed to all men. They are 

Zbc Ibero as IKin^, 269 

the wisest who will learn it soonest. Long con- 
fused generations before it be learned ; peace im- 
possible till it be ! The earnest man surrounded, 
as ever, with a world of inconsistencies, can 
await patiently, patiently strive to do /lis work, 
in the midst of that. Sentence of Death is 
written down in Heaven against all that ; sen- 
tence of Death is now proclaimed on the Earth 
against it : this he with his eyes may see. And 
surely, I should say, considering the other side of 
the matter, what enormous difficulties lie there, 
and how fast, fearfully fast, in all countries, the 
inexorable demand for solution of them is press- 
ing on, — he may easily find other work to do 
than laboring in the Sansculottic province at 
this time of day ! 

To me, in these circumstances, that of * Hero- 
Worship ' becomes a fact inexpressibly precious ; 
the most solacing fact one sees in the world at 
present. There is an everlasting hope in it for 
the management of the world. Had all tradi- 
tions^ arrangements, creeds, societies that men 
eA''er instituted, sunk away, this would remain. 
The certainty of Heroes being sent us ; our 
faculty, our necessity, to reverence Heroes when 
sent : it shines like a polestar through smoke- 
clouds, dust-clouds and all manner of down-rush- 
ing and conflagration. 

Hero-worship would have sounded very strange 
to those workers and fighters in the French 
devolution. Not reverence for Great Men ; not 
any hope or belief, or even wish, that Great Men 
could again appear in the world ! Nature, turned 
into a ' Machine,' was as if effete now ; could not 

2 70 . Xectures on fberoes. 

any longer produce Great Men : — I can tell her, 
she may give-up the trade altogether, then ; we • 
cannot do without Great Men ! — But neither have 
I any quarrel with that of ' Liberty and Equality ; ' 
with the faith that, wise great men being impos- 
sible, a level immensity of foolish small men would 
sufhce= It was a natural faith then and there/ 
" Liberty and Equality ; no Authority needed, 
any longer. Hero-worship, reverence for such 
Authorities, has proved false, is itself a falsehood ; 
no more of it ! We have had such forgeries, we 
will now trust nothing. So many base plated 
coins passing in the market, the belief has now 
become common that no gold any longer exists, — 
and even that we can do very well without gold ! " 
I find this, among other things, in that universal 
cry of Liberty and Equality ; and find it very 
natural, as matters then stood. 

And yet surely it is but the transition from 
false to true. Considered as the whole truth, it 
is false altogether ; — the product of e"-tire sceptical 
blindness, as yet only struggling jc see. ■ Hero- 
worship exists forever, and everywhere: not- 
Loyalty alone ; it extends from divine adoratiola 
down to the lowest practical regions, ofarJife. 
' Bending before men,' if it is not to be a mere 
empty grimace, better dispensed with than 
practised, is Hero-worship, — a recognition that 
there does dwell in that presence of our -brother^ 
sdmething divine; that every created man, as 
Novalis said, is a ' revelation in the Flesh.' They 
were Poets too, that devised all those graceful 
courtesies which make life noble ! Courtesy is 
aot a fiilsehood or grimace ; it need not be such, 

^be tbero as Iking. 271 

And Loyalty, religious Worship itself, are still 
possible ; nay still inevitable. 

May we not say, moreover, while so many of 
our late Heroes have worked rather as revolu- 
tionary men, that nevertheless every Great Man, 
every genuine man, is by the nature of him a son 
of Order, not of Disorder ? It is a tragical posi- 
tion for a true man to work in revolutions. He 
seems an anarchist ; and indeed a painful element 
of anarchy does encumber him at every step, — 
him to whose whole soul anarchy is hostile, 
hateflil. His mission is Order; every man's is. 
He is here to what was disorderly, chaotic, 
into a thing ruled, regular. He is the missionary 
of Order. Is not all work of man in this world 
2i making of Order 1 The carpenter finds rough 

~1trees ; shapes them, constrains them into square 
fitness, into purpose and use. We are all born 
enemies of Disorder : it is tragical for us all to be 
concerned in image-breaking and down-pulling ; 
for the Great Man, fuore a man than we, it is 
doubly tragical. 

Thus too all human things, maddest French 
Sansculottisms, do and must work towards Order. 
I siy, th^re is not a man in them, raging in the 
thipkest of the madness, but is impelled withal, 

'at all moments, towards Order. His very life 
means that ; Disorder is dissolution, death. No 
chaos .but it seeks a centre to revolve rouhd. 
While man is man, some Cromwell or Napoleon 
is the necessary finish of a Sansculottism. — 
Curious : in those days when Hero-worship was 
the most incredible thing to every one, how it 
does come-out nevertheless, and assert itself 

272 Xectures on Ibcxoee, 

practically, in a way which all have to credit 
Divine ri^/it, take it on the great scale, is found 
to mean divine viight withal ! While old f^vlse 
Formulas are getting trampled everywhere into 
destruction, new genuine Substances unexpect- 
edly unfold themselves indestructible. In rebel- 
lious ages, when Kingship itself seems dead and 
abolished, Cromwell, Napoleon step-forth again 
as Kings. The history of these men is what we 
have now to look at, as our last phasis of Heroism. 
The old ages are brought back to us ; the manner 
in which Kings were made, and Kingship itself 
first took rise, is again exhibited in the history of 
these Two. 

We have had many civil-wars in England ; wars 
of Red and White Roses, wars of Simon de 
Montfort ; wars enough, which are not very 
memorable. But that war of the Puritans has a 
significance which belongs to no one of the 
others. Trusting to your candor, which ' will 
suggest on the other side what I have not room 
to say, I will call it a section once more of that 
great universal war which alone makes-up .the true 
History of the World, — the war of Belief against- 
Unbelief ! The struggle of men intent on .the ? 
real essence of things, against men intention the 
semblances and forms of things. The Puritans, \ 
to many, seem mere savage Iconoclasts, fierce 
destroyers of Forms ; but it were more just to call 
them haters of untrue Forms. I hope we know 
how to respect Laud and his King as well as 
them. Poor Laud seems to me to have been 
weak and ill-starred, not dishonest ; an unfortu- 

tibc Ibero ae IRlng. 273 

nate Pedant rather than anything worse. His 
' Dreams ' and superstitions, at which they laugh 
so, have an affectionate, lovable kind of character. 
He is like a College-Tutor, whose whole world is 
forms. College-rules ; whose notion is that these 
are the life and safety of the world. He is placed 
suddenly, with that unalterable luckless notion of 
his, at the head not of a College but of a Nation. 
to regulate the most complex, deep-reaching inter- 
ests of men. He thinks they ought to go by tlie 
old decent regulations ; nay that their salva- 
tion will lie in extending and improving these. 
Like a weak man, he drives with spasmodic 
vehemence towards his purpose ; cramps himself 
to it, heeding no voice of prudence, no cry of pity : 
He will have his College-rules obeyed by his 
Collegians ; that first ; and till that, nothing. He 
is an ill-starred Pedant, as I said. He would have 
it the world was a College of that kind, and the 
world was not that. Alas, was not his doom stern 
enough .? Whatever wrongs he did, were they not 
all frightfully avenged on him .'' 

It is meritorious to insist on forms ; Religion 
and all else naturally clothes itself in forms. 
Eveiry where \hQ formed world is the only habitable 
one. The naked formlessness of Puritanism is 
not the thing I praise in the Puritans; it is the 
thing I pity, — praising only the spirit which had 
rendered that inevitable ! All substances clothe 
tli^nselves in-forms : but there are suitable true 
forms, and then there are untrue unsuitable. As 
the briefest definition, one might say. Forms which 
gro7v round a substance, if we rightly under- 
stand that, will correspond to the real nature and 

2 74 ilectures on IberoeSo 

purport of it, will be true, good ; forms which are 
consciously //<;/ round a substance, bad. I invite 
you to reflect on this. It distinguishes truis from 
false in Ceremonial Form, earnest solemnity from 
empty pageant, in all human things. ^ 

There must be a veracity, a natural spontaneity 
in forms. In the commonest meeting of men, a 
person making, what we call, ' set speeches,' is 
not he an offence ? In the mere drawing-room, 
whatsoever courtesies you see to be grimaces, 
prompted by no spontaneous reality within, are a 
thing you wish to get away from. But suppose 
now it were some matter of vital concernment, 
some transcendent matter (as Divine Worship is), 
about which your whole soul, struck dumb with 
its excess of feeling, knew not how to form itself 
into utterance at all,_ and preferred formless 
silence to any utterance there possible, — what 
should we say of a man coming forward to rep- 
resent or utter it for you in the way of uphol- 
sterer-mummery ? Such a man, — let him depart 
swiftly, if he love himself ! You have lost your 
only son ; are mute, struck down, without even 
tears : an importunate man importunately offers 
to celebrate Funeral Games for him in the man- 
ner of the Greeks ! Such mummery is not only 
not to be accepted, — it is hateful, unendurable. 
It is what the old Prophets called ' Idolatry,' 
worshipping of hollow shows ; what all earnest 
men do and will reject. We can partly understand 
what those poor Puritans meant. Laud dedi- 
cating that St. Catherine Creed's Church, in the 
manner we have it described ; with his multiplied 
ceremonial bowings, gesticulations, exclamations : 

Cbe Ibero ae Iking. 275 

surely it is rather the rigorous formal PedaJit^ 
intent on his ' College-rules,' than the earnest 
Prophet, intent on the essence of the matter! 
■ Puritanism found such forms insupportable; 
trampled on such forms; — we have to excuse it 
for saying, No form at all rather than such ! It 
stood preaching in its bare pulpit, with nothing 
but the Bible in its hand. Nay, a man preaching 
from his earnest soul into the earnest souls of 
men : is not this virtually the essence of all 
Churches whatsoever? The nakedest, savagest 
reality, I say, is preferable to any semblance, 
however dignified. Besides, it will clothe itself 
with due semblance by and by, if it be real. No 
fear of that ; actually no fear at all. Given the 
living mau^ there will be found clothes for him ; 
he will find himself clothes. But the suit-of- 
clothes pretending that // is both clothes and 
man-^! — We cannot ' fight the French' by three- 
hundred-thousand red uniforms ; there must be 
men in the inside of them ! Semblance, I assert, 
must actually not divorce itself from Reality. If 
Semblance do, — why then there must be men 
found to rebel against Semblance, for it has be- 
come a lie ! These two Antagonisms at war here, 
in the case of Laud and the Puritans, are as old 
nearly as the world. They went to fierce battle 
over England in that age ; and fought-out their 
confused controversy to a certain length, with 
many results for all of us. 

In the age which directly followed that of the 
Puritans, their cause or themselves w^ere little 
likely to have justice done them. Charles Sec- 

276 Xectures on Iberoes. 

ond and his Rochesters were not the kind of men 
you would set to judge what the worth or mean- 
ing of such men might have been. That there 
could be any faith or truth in the life of a man, 
was what these poor Rochesters, and the age they 
ushered-in, had forgotten. Puritanism was hung 
on gibbets, — like the bones of the leading Puri- 
tans. Its work nevertheless went on accomplish- 
ing itself. All true work of a man, hang the au- 
thor of it on what gibbet you like, must and will 
accomplish itself. We have our Haheas-Co?-puSy 
our free Representation of the People ; acknowl- 
edgment, wide as the world, that all men are, or 
else must, shall, and will become, what we call 
free men ; — men with their life grounded on real- 
ity and justice, not on tradition, which has become 
unjust and a chimera ! This in part, and much 
besides this, was the work of the Puritans. 

And indeed, as these things became gradually 
manifest, the character of the Puritans began to 
clear itself. Their memories were, one after 
another, taken down from the gibbet ; nay a cer- 
tain portion of them are now, in these days, as 
good as canonized. Eliot, Hampden, Pym, nay 
Ludlow, Hutchinson, Vane himself, are admitted 
to be a kind of Heroes ; political Conscript 
Fathers, to whom in no small degree we owe what 
makes us a free England : it would not be safe 
for anybody to designate these men as wicked 
now. Few Puritans of note but find their apolo- 
gists somewhere, and have a certain reverence 
paid them by earnest men. One Puritan, I 
think, and almost he alone, our poor Cromwell, 
seems to hang yet on the gibbet, and find no 

^be 1bero as Iking. 277 

"hearty apologist anywhere. Him neither saint 
nor sinner will acquit of great wickedness. A 
man of ability, infinite talent, courage, and so 
forth : but he betrayed the Cause. Selfish am- 
bition, dishonesty, duplicity ; a fierce, coarse, 
hypocritical Tartufe ; turning all that noble 
Struggle for constitutional Liberty into a sorry 
'farce played for his own benefit : this and worse 
is the character they give of Cromwell. And 
then there come contrasts with Washington and 
others ; above all, with these noble Pyms and 
Hampdens, whose noble work he stole for him- 
self, and ruined into a futility and deformity. 

This view of Cromwell seems to me the not 
unnatural product of a century like the Eighteenth. 
As we said of the Valet, so of the Sceptic : He 
does not know a Hero when he sees him ! The 
Valet expected purple mantles, gilt sceptres, 
body-guards and flourishes of trumpets : the 
Sceptic of the Eighteenth century looks for regu- 
lated respectable Formulas, ' Principles,' or what 
else he may call them ; a style of speech and 
conduct which has got to seem 'respectable,' 
which can plead for itself in a handsome articu- 
late manner, and gain the suffrages of an en- 
lightened sceptical Eighteenth century ! It is, at 
bottom, the same thing that both the Valet and he 
expect; the garnitures of some acknowledged 
royalty, which the7i they will acknowledge ! The 
King coming to them in the rugged ?/;/formu- 
listic state shall be no King. 

For my own share, far be it from me to say or 
insinuate a word of disparagement against such 
characters as Hampden, Eliot, Pym ; whom I 

278 Xecturea on tberoes. 

believe to have been right worthy and useful men, 
I have read diligently what books and docu- 
ments about them I could come at; — with the 
honestest wish to admire, to love and worship 
them like Heroes ; but I am sorry to say, if the 
real truth must be told, with ver}?- indifferent 
success ! At bottom, I found that it would not 
do. They are very noble men, these ; step along 
in their stately way, with their measured euphe- 
misms, philosophies, parliamentary eloquences, 
Ship-moneys, Monarchies of Alan ; a most con- 
stitutional, unblamable, dignified set of men. But 
the heart remains cold before them ; the fancy 
alone endeavors to get-up some worship of them. 
What man's heart does, in reality, break-forth into 
any fire of brotherly love for these mefi ? They 
are become dreadfully dull men ! One breaks- 
down often enough in the constitutional eloquence 
of the admirable Pym, with his 'seventhly and 
lastly.' You find that it may be the admirablest 
thing in the world, but that it is heavy, — heavy 
as lead, barren as brick-clay ; that, in a word, for 
you there is little or nothing now surviving there ! 
One leaves all these Nobilities standing in their 
niches of honor : the rugged outcast Cromwell, 
he is the man of them all in whom one still finds 
human stuff. The great savage Baresark : he 
could write no euphemistic Monarchy of Ma?i ; 
did not speak, did not work with glib regularity ; 
had no straight story to tell for himself anywhere. 
But he stood bare, not cased in euphemistic coat- 
of-mail ; he grappled like a giant, face to face, 
heart to heart, with the naked truth of things 1 
That, after all, is the sort of man for one. I 

Cbe Ibero as 1kfng. 279 

plead guilty to valuing such a man beyond all 
other sorts of men. Smooth-shaven Respecta- 
bilities not a few one finds, that are not good for 
much. Small thanks to a man for keeping his 
hands clean, who would not touch the work but 
with gloves on ! 

Neither, on the whole, does this constitutional 
tolerance of the Eighteenth century for the other 
happier Puritans seem to be a very great matter. 
One might say, it is but a piece of Formulism and 
Scepticism, like the rest. They tell us, It was 
a sorrowful thing to consider that the founda- 
tion of four English Liberties should have been 
laid by ' Superstition.' These Puritans came 
forward with Calvinistic incredible Creeds, Anti- 
Laudisms, Westminster Confessions ; demanding, 
chiefly of all, that they should have liberty to 
worship in their own way. Liberty to tax them- 
selves : that was the thing they should have 
demanded ! It was Superstition, Fanaticism, dis- 
graceful ignorance of Constitutional Philosophy to 
insist on the other thing ! — Liberty to tax oneself ? 
Not to pay-out money from your pocket except on 
reason shown ? No century, I think, but a rather 
barren one would have fixed on that as the first 
right of man ! I should say, on the contrary, A 
just man will generally have better cause than 
^noney in what shape soever, before deciding to 
revolt against his Government. Ours is a most 
confused world ; in which a good man will be 
thankful to see any kind of Government maintain 
itself in a not insupportable manner : and here in 
England, to this hour, if he is not ready to pay a 
great many taxes which he can see very smalj 

28o Xectures on iDeio*... 

reason in, it will not go well with him, I think I 
He must try some other climate than this. Tax- 
gatherer ? Money ? He will say : " Take my 
money, since you ca/i, and it is so desirable ta 
you ; take it, — and take yourself away with it ; 
and leave me alone to my work here, /am still 
here ; can still work, after all the money you have 
taken from me ! " But if they come to him, and 
say, '' Acknowledge a Lie: pretend to say- you 
are worshipping God, when you are not doing it : 
believe not the thing that ji'^// find true, but the 
thing that I find, or pretend to find true ! " He 
will answer : " No ; by God's help, no ! Yoy 
may take my purse ; but I cannot have my moral 
Self annihilated. The purse is any Highway- 
man's who might meet me with a loaded pistol r 
but the Self is mine and God my Maker's ; it is 
not yours ; and I will resist you to the death, and 
revolt against you, and, on the whole, front all 
manner of extremities, accusations and confu- 
sions, in defence of that ! " — 

Really, it seems to me the one reason which 
could justify revolting, this of the Puritans. It has- 
been the soul of all just revolts among men. Not 
Hunge?' alone produced even the French Revolu- 
tion ; no, but the feeling of the insupportable all- 
pervading Falsehood which had now embodied 
itself in Hunger, in universal material Scarcity and 
Nonentity, and thereby become indisputably i^X-i^ 
in the eyes of all ! We will leave the Eighteenth 
century with its ' liberty to tax itself.' We will 
>not astonish ourselves that the meaning of 
such men as the Puritans remained dim to it» 
To men who believe in no reality at all, how shall 

Zbc 1bcro as IRlng. 281 

a rea/ human soul, the intensest of all realities, as 
it were the Voice of this world's Maker still speak- 
ing to us, — be intelligible ? What it cannot reduce 
into constitutional doctrines relative to ' taxing,' or 
other the like material interest, gross, palpable to 
tJie sense, such a century will needs reject as an 
amorphous heap of rubbish. Hampdens, Pyms 
and Ship-money will be the theme of much con- 
stitutional eloquence, striving to be fervid ; — ■ 
which will glitter, if not as fire does, then as zee 
does : and the irreducible Cromwell will remain a 
chaotic mass of ' madness,' ' hypocrisy,' and much 

From of old, I will confess, this theory of Crom- 
well's falsity has been incredible to me. Nay I 
cannot believe the like, of any Great Man what- 
ever. Multitudes of Great Men figure in History 
as false selfish men ; but if we will consider it, 
they are hut Jigures for us, unintelligible shadows ; 
we do not see into them as men that could have 
existed at all. A superficial unbelieving genera- 
tion only, with no eye but for the surfaces and 
semblances of things, could form such notions of 
Great Men. Can a great soul be possible without 
a conscience in it, the essence of all r^^z/ souls, great 
or small ,?-— No, we cannot figure Crom\vell as a 
I^alsity and Fatuity ; the longer I study him and 
his career, I believe this the less. Why should 
we ? There is no evidence of it. Is it not strange 
that, after all the mountains of calumny this man 
has been subject to, after being represented as 
the very prince of liars, who never, or hardly ever, 
cpoke truth, but always some cunning counterfeit 

282 Xectures on Iberoes. 

of truth, there should not yet have been one false* 
hood brought clearly home to him ? A prince of 
liars, and no lie spoken by hiin. Not one that I 
could yet get sight of. It is like Pococke asking 
Grotius, Where is your proof of Mahomet's 
Pigeon ? No proof 1 — Let us leave all these 
calumnious chimeras, as chimeras ought to be left. 
They are not portraits of the man ; they are dis- 
tracted phantasms of him, the joint product of 
hatred and darkness. 

Looking at the man's life with our own eyes, it 
seems to me, a very different hypothesis suggests 
itself. What little we know of his earlier ob- 
scure years, distorted as it has come down to us> 
does it not all betoken an earnest, affectionate, 
sincere kind of man ? His nervous melancholic 
temperament indicates rather a seriousness too 
deep for him. Of those stories of ' Spectres ; ' 
of the white Spectre in broad daylight, predict- 
ing that he should be King of England, we are 
not bound to believe much ; — probably no more 
than of the other black Spectre, or Devil in 
person, to whom the Officer saw him sell himself 
before Worcester Fight ! But the mournful, 
over-sensitive, hypochondriac humor of Oliver, 
in his young years, is otherwise indisputably 
known. The Huntingdon Physician told Sir 
Philip Warwick himself, He had often been 
sent for at midnight ; Mr. Cromwell was full of 
hypochondria, thought himself near dying, and 
•' had fancies about the Town-cross." These 
things are significant. Such an excitable deep 
feeling nature, in that rugged stuboorn strength 
of his, is not the symptom of falsehood ; it is the 

Zbc 1bero as IRing. 283 

sjTTiptom and promise of quite other than false- 
hood ! 

The young OUver is sent to study Law : falls, 
or is said to have fallen, for a little period, into 
some of the dissipations of youth ; but if so, 
speedily repents, abandons all this : not much 
above twenty, he is married, settled as an alto- 
gether grave and quiet man. ' He pays-back 
what money he had won at gambling,' says the 
story; — he does not think any gain of that kind 
could be really /i/'s. It is very interesting, very 
natural, this ' conversion,' as they well name it; 
this awakening of a great true soul from the 
worldly slough, to see into the awful t/'ut/i of 
things ; — to see that Time and its shows all 
rested on Eternity, and this poor Earth of ours 
was the threshold either of Heaven or of Hell! 
Oliver's life at St. Ives and Ely, as a sober indus- 
trious Farmer, is it not altogether as that of a 
true and devout man ? He has renounced the 
world and its ways : I'^s prizes are not the thing 
that can enrich him. He tills the earth ; he reads 
his Bible ; daily assembles his servants round 
him to worship God. He comforts persecuted 
ministers, is fond of preachers ; nay, can himself 
preach, — exhorts his neighbors to be wise, to 
redeem the time. In all this what ' hypocrisy,' 
^ambition,' ' cant,' or other falsity? The man's 
hopes, I do believe, were fixed on the oflier 
Higher World ; his aim to get well thither, by 
walkinor ^ell throuirh his humble course in this 
world. He courts no notice : what could notice 
here do for him ? ' Ever in his great Task- 
master's eye.' 

284 Xectuces on tberoes. 

It is striking, too, how he comes-out once into 
public view ; he, since no other is wiUing to 
come : in resistance to a public grievance. I 
mean, in that matter of the Bedford Fens. No 
one else will go to law with Authority ; therefore 
he will. That matter once settled, he returns 
back into obscurity, to his Bible and his Plough. 
^ Gain influence ' ? His influence is the most 
legitimate ; derived from personal knowledge of 
him, as a just, religious, reasonable and- deter- 
mined man. In this way he has lived till past, 
forty; old age is now in view of him, and the 
earnest portal of Death and Eternity ; it was at 
this point that he suddenly became ' ambitious ' ! 
I do not interpret his Parliamentary mission in 
that way ! 

His successes in Parliament, his successes 
through the war, are honest successes of a brave 
man ; who has more resolution in the heart of him, 
more light in the head of him than other men. 
His prayers to God ; his spoken thanks to the God 
of Victory, who had preserved him safe, and 
carried him forward so far, through the furious 
clash of a world all set in conflict, through 
desperate-looking envelopments at Dunbar ; 
through the death-hail of so many battles; mercy 
after mercy ; to the ' crowning mercy ' of Worcester 
Fight : all this is good and genuine for a deep- 
hearted Calvinistic Cromwell. Only to vain un- 
believing Cavaliers, worshipping not God but 
their own ' lovelocks,' frivolities, and formalities, 
living quite apart from contemplations of God, 
living ivithout God in the world, need it seera 

XLbc fbcvo ae Iking. 285 

Nor will his participation in the King's death 
involve him in condemnation with us. It is a 
stern business killing of a King ! But if you once 
go to war with him, it lies there ; this and all else 
lies there. Once at war, you have made wager of 
battle with him : it is he to die, or else you. Rec- 
onciliation is problematic ; may be possible, or, 
far more likely, is impossible. It is now pretty 
generally admitted that the Parliament, having 
vanquished Charles First, had no way of making 
any tenable arrangement with him. The large 
Presbyterian party, apprehensive now of the 
Independents, were most anxious to do so ; 
anxious indeed as for their own existence ; but it 
could not be. The unhappy Charles, in those 
final Hampton-Court negotiations, shows himself 
as a man fatally incapable of being dealt with. 
A man who, once for all, could not and would not 
understand : — whose thought did not in any 
measure represent to him the real fact of the 
matter ; nay worse, whose word did not at all 
represent his thought. We may say this of him 
without cruelty, with deep pity rather : but it is 
true and undeniable. Forsaken there of all but 
the name of Kingship, he still, finding himself 
treated with outward respect as a King, fancied 
that he might play-off party against party, and 
smuggle himself into his old power by deceiving 
both. Alas, they both discovered that he was 
deceiving them. A man whose word will not in- 
form you at all what he means or will do, is not 
a man you can bargain with. You must get out 
of that man's way, or put him out of yours ! The 
Presbyterians, in their despair, were still for be- 

286 Xectures on Iberoes. 

lieving Charles, though found false, unbelievable 
again and again. Not so Cromwell : " For all 
our fighting," says he, " we are to have a little 
bit of paper ? " No ! — 

In fact, everywhere we have to note the decisive 
practical eye of this man ; how he drives tow^ards 
the practical and practicable ; has a genuine in- 
sight into what is fact. Such an intellect, I 
maintain, does not belong to a false man : the 
false man sees false shows, plausibilities, expedi' 
ences : the true man is needed to discern even 
practical truth. Cromwell's advice about the 
Parliament's Army, early in the contest. How they 
were to dismiss their city-tapsters, flimsy riotous 
persons, and choose substantial yeomen, Ahose 
heart w^as in the work, to be soldiers for them : 
this is advice by a man who saw. Fact ans^vers, 
if you see into Fact ! Cromwell's Iroiisides w^ere 
the embodiment of this insight of his ; men fear- 
ing God ; and without any other fear. No more, 
conclusively genuine set of fighters ever trod ' 
the soil of England, or of any other land.. 

Neither will we blame greatly that word of 
Cromwell's to them ; which was so blamed : " If 
the King should meet me in battle, I would kill 
the King." Why not? These words were spoken 
to men who stood as before a Higher than Kings. 
They had set more than their own lives on the 
cast. The Parliament may call it, in official 
language, a fighting 'for the King ; ' but w^e, for 
Dur share, cannot understand that. To us it is 
no dilettante work, no sleek officiality ; it is sheer 
rough death and earnest. They have brought it 
*o the calling-forth of War ; horrid internecine 

■' ^be Ibcro as Iking. 287 

-fight, man grappling with man in fire-eyed rage, 
— the infcr7ial element in man called forth, to try 
it by that ! Do that therefore ; since that is 
the thing to be done.— The successes of Crom- 
well seem to me a very natural thing! Since he 
was ,not shot in battle, they were an inevitable 
thing. ' That such a man, with the eye to see, 
with the heart to dare, should advance, from post to 
post, from victory to victory, till the Huntingdon 
Farmer became, by whatever name you might call 
him, the acknowledged Strongest Man in England, 
virtually the King of England, requires no magic 
to explain it ! — 

Truly it is a sad thing for a people, as for 
a man, to fall into Scepticism, into dilettantism 
insincerity ; not to know a Sincerity when they 
see it. For this world, and for all worlds, what 
curse is so fatal ? The heart lying dead, the eye 
cannot see. What intellect remains is merely 
the vulpine intellect. That a true King be sent 
tl^em is of small use ; they do not know him 
-when sent. They say scornfully. Is this your 
King ? ys^ The Hero wastes his heroic faculty in 
bootless* contradiction from the unworthy ; and 
can accomplish little. For himself he does ac- 
complish a heroic life, which is much, which is 
all ; but for the world he accomplishes compara- 
tively nothing. The wild rude Sincerity, direct 
from Nature, is not glib in answering from the 
wutness-box : in your small-debt //<?-/<97i:/^/<?r court, 
he is scouted as a counterfeit. The vulpine in- 
tellect ' detects ' him. For being a man worth 
any thousand men, the response your Knox, your 
Cromwell gets, is an argument for two centuries 

288 Xectures on Ibetoes. 

whether he was a man at all. God's greatest gift 
to this Earth is sneeringly flung away. The 
miraculous talisman is a paltry plated coin, not 
fit to pass in the shops as a common guinea. 

Lamentable^this ! I say, this must be remedied. 
Till this be remedied in some measure, there is 
nothing remedied. ' Detect quacks ' ? Yes do, 
for Heaven's sake ; but know withal the men that 
are to be trusted ! Till we know that, what is all 
our knowledge ; how shall we even so much as 
' detect ' ? For the vulpine sharpness, which con- 
siders itself to be knowled^^, and 'detects' in 
that fashion, is far mistaken. Dupes^ indeed are 
many : but, of all ^//^J>es, there is none so fatally 
situated as he who lives in undue terror of being 
duped. The world does exist ; the world has 
truth in it, or it would not exist ! First recognize 
what is true, we shall t/ien discern what is false ; 
and properly never till then. 

' Know the men that are to be trusted : ' alas, 
this is yet, in these days, very far from us. The 
sincere alone can recognize sincerity. Not a Hero 
only is needed, but a world fit for him ; a world, 
not of Valets ; — the Hero comes almost in vain to 
it otherwise ! Yes, it is far from us : but it must 
come ; thank God, it is visibly coming. Till it 
do come, what have we ? Ballot-boxes, suffrages, 
French Revolutions : — if we are as Valets, and do 
not know the Hero when we see him, what good 
are all these ? A heroic Cromwell comes ; and 
for a hundred- an d-fifty years he cannot have a 
vote from us. Why, the insincere, unbelieving 
word is the natural property of the Quack, and 
of the Father of quacks and quackeries ! Misery, 

'CI;c [Devo as Iking* 289 

confusion, unveracity are alone possible there. 
By ballot-boxes we alter theyf^z/rt- of our Quack ; 
but the substance of him continues. The Valet- 
World has to be governed by the Sham-Hero, by 
the king merely dressed in King-gear. It is his ; 
he is its ! In brief, one of two things : We shall 
either learn to know a Hero, a true Governor 
and Captain, somewhat better, when we see 
him ; OT else go on to be forever governed by 
the Unheroic ; — had we ballot-boxes " clattering 
at every street-corner, there were no remedy in 

Poor Cromwell^— great. Cromwfell ! -The inar- 
ticulate Prophet ; Prophet who could not speak. 
Rude, confused, struggling to utter himself, with 
his savage depth, with his wild sincerity ; and he 
looked so strange, among the elegant Euphe- 
misms, dainty little Falklands, didactic Chilling- 
worths, diplomatic Clarendons ! Consider him. 
An outer hull of chaotic confusion, visions of the 
Devil, nervous dreams, almost semi-madness •, 
and yet such a clear determinate man's-energy 
working in the heart of that. A kind of chaotic 
man. The ray as of pure starlight and fire, 
working in such an element of boundless hypo- 
chondria, ///^formed black of darkness ! And 
yet withal this hypochondria, what was it but 
the very greatness of the man ? The depth and 
tenderness of his wild affections : the quantity 
of sy77ipathy he had with things, — the'quantity of 
insight he would yet get into the heart of things, 
the mastery he would yet get over things : this 
was his hypochondria. The man's misery, as 
man's misery always does, came of his greatness. 

290 Xectures on I6ero(f0. 

Samuel Johnson too is that kind of man. Sorrow 
stricken, half-distracted ; the wide element of 
mournful black enveloping him, — wide as the 
world. It is the character of a prophetic man ; 
a man with his whole soul seei7ig, and struggling 
to see. ^ ' 

On this ground, too, I explain to myself Crom- 
well's reputed (5onfusion of speech. To himself 
the internal meaning was sun-clear ; but the 
material with which he was to clothe it in utter-* 
ance was not there. He had //z'^</ silent ; a great 
unnamed sea of Thought round him all his days ; 
and in his way of life little call to attempt Jiaming 
or uttering that. With his sharp power of vision, 
resolute power of action, I doubt not he could 
have learned to write Books withal, and speak 
fluently enough ; — he did harder things tlian 
writing of Books; This kind of man is precisely 
he who is fit for doing manfully all things you 
will set him on doing. Intellect is not speaking 
and logicizing; it is seeing and ascertaining. 
Virtue, F/r-;'//^, >flanhood, herohood, \s not fair-- 
spoken immaculate regularity ; it is first of all, what 
the Germans welfname it, Tuge)id{Taugend, dow- 
ing or Dou^h-^Xvi^^s), Courage and the Faculty to 
do. This basis of the matter Cromwell had in 

One understands moreover how, though he 
could not speak in Parliament, he m\^\tpreach^ 
rhapsodic preaching ; above all, how~ he might-be 
great in extempore prayer. These are the free 
outpouring utterances of what is in the heart .' 
method is not required in them ; warmth, depth, 
sincerity are all that is required. Cromwell's 



^be 1bero aa Iking, 291 

habit of prayer is a notable feature of hira. All 
his great enterprises were commenced with prayer. 
In dark inextricable-looking difficulties, his Offi- 
cers and he used to assemble, and pray alternately, 
for hours, for days, till some definite resolution 
rose among them, some ' door of hope,' as they 
would name it, disclosed itself. Consider that. 
In tears, in fervent prayers, and cries to the great 
God, to have pity on them, to make His light 
shine before them. They, armed Soldiers of 
Christ, as they felt themselves to be ; a little 
band of Christian Brothers, who had drawn the 
sword against a great black devouring world not 
Christian, but Mammonish, Devilish, — they cried 
to God in their straits, in their extreme need, not 
to forsake the Cause that was His. The light 
which now rose upon them, — how could a human 
soul, by any means at all, get better light ? Was 
not the purpose so formed like to be precisely the 
best, wisest, the one to be followed without hesi- 
tation any more ? To them it was as the shining 
of Heaven's own Splendor in the waste-howling 
darkness ; the Pillar of Fire by night, that was to 
guide them on their desolate perilous way. IVas 
it not such ? Can a man's soul, to this hour, get 
guidance by any other method than intrinsically 
by that same, — devout prostration of the earnest 
struggling soul before the Highest, the Giver of 
all Light ; be such prayer a spoken, articulate, or 
be it a voiceless, inarticulate one ? There is no 
other method. ' Hypocrisy ' ? One begins to be 
weary of all that. They who call it so, have no 
fight to speak on such matters. They never 
formed a purpose, what one can call a purpose. 

292 ^Lectures on IDeroes. 

They went about balancing expediencies, plausi 
bilities ; gathering votes, advices ; they never were 
alone with the trut/i of a thing at all.;;^Cromweirs 
prayers were likely to be ' eloquent,' und much 
more than that. His was the heart of a man who 
iOi^/d pray. 

But indeed his actual Speeches, I apprehend, 
were not nearly so ineloquent, incondite, as they 
look. We find he was, what all speakers aim to 
be, an impressive speaker, even in Parliament ;^ 
one who, from the first, had weight. With that 
rude passionate voice of his, he was always under- 
stood to mean something, and men wished to . 
know what. He disregarded eloquence, nay de- 
spised and disliked it ; spoke always without pre- 
meditation of the words he was to use. The 
Reporters, too, in those days seem to have been 
singularly candid ; and to have given the Printer 
precisely what they found on their own note-paper. 
And withal, what a strange proof is it of Crom- 
well's being the premeditative ever-calculating 
hypocrite, acting a play before the world. That to 
the last he took no more charge of his Speeches ! 
How^ came he not to study his words a little, 
before flinging them out to the public ? If the 
words were true words, they could be left to shift 
for themselves. 

But with regard to Cromwell's ' lying,' we will 
make one remark. This, I suppose, or something 
like this, to have been the nature of it. All par- 
ties found themselves deceived in him ; each party 
understood him to be meaning f/iis, heard him 
even say so, and behold he turns-out to have 
been meaning fAat/ He was, cry they, the chief 

Cbe IDero aa TrUxq. ' 293 

of liars. But now, intrinsically, is not all this the 
inevitable fortune, not of a false man in such 
times, "but simply of a superior man ? Such a 
man must have r^ticerices in him. If he walk 
wearing his heart upon his sleeve for daws to 
peck at, his journey will not extend far ! There 
is no use for any man^s taking-up his abode in a 
house built of glass. A man always is to be him- 
self the judge how much of his mind he will show 
to other men ; even to those he would have work 
along with him. There are impertinent inquiries 
made : your rule is, to leave the inquirer un\xi- 
formed on that matter ; not, if you can help it, 
mismioxm^^, but precisely as dark as he was ! 

This, could one hit the right phrase of response, 
is what the wise and faithful man would aim to 
answer in such a case. 

Cromwell, no doubt of it, spoke often in the 
dialect of small subaltern parties ; uttered ta 
them a part of his mind. Each little party 
thought him all its own. Hence their rage, one 
and all, to find him not of their party, but of his 
own party ! Was it his blame ? At all seasons 
of his history he must have felt, among such 
people, how, if he explained to them the deeper 
insight he had, they must either have shuddered 
aghast at it, or believing it, their own little com- 
pact hypothesis must have gone wholly to wreck. 
They could not have worked in his province any 
more; nay perhaps they could not have now 
worked in their own province. It is the inevitable 
position of a great man among small men. Small 
men, most active, useful, are to be seen every- 
where, whose whole activity depends on some- 

^94 Xectures on fberoes. 

■ conviction which to you is palpably a limited 
one; imperfect, what we call an erro?-. But 
would it be a kindness always, is it a duty always 
or often, to disturb them in that ? Many a man, 
doing loud work in the world, stands only on 
some thin traditionality, conventionality to him 
indubitable, to you incredible : break that beneath 
him, he sinks to endless depths ! " I might have 
my hand full of truth," said Fontenelle,"andopen 
only my little finger." 

And if this be the fact even in matters of 
doctrine, how much more in all departments of 
practice ! He that cannot withal keep his mind- 
to himself Q,2.xvxioX. practise any considerable thing 
whatever. And we call it 'dissimulation,' all 
this ? What would you think of calling the gen- 
eral of' an army a dissembler because he did 
not tell every corporal and private soldier, who 
pleased to put the question, what his thoughts 
were about everything ? — Cromwell, I should 
rather say, managed all this in a manner we 
must admire for its perfection. An endless 
vortex of such questioning ' corporals ' rolled 
confusedly round him through his whole course; 
whom he did answer. It must have been as 
a great true-seeing man that he managed this too. 
Not one proved falsehood, as I said ; not one ! 
Of what man that ever wound himself through 
such a coil of things will you say so much .'' — 

But in fact there are two errors, widely preva- 
lent, which pervert to the very basis our judg- 
ments formed about such men as Cromwell; 
;about their 'ambition,' 'falsity,' and suchlike. 

Zbc tbcro as Ikina. , 295, 

The first is what I might call substituting the. 
^oa/ of their career for the course and^ starting- 
point of it. The vulgar Historian of a Cromwell 
fancies that he had determined on being Protector 
of England, at the time when he was ploughing the 
marsh lands of Cambridgeshire. His career lay 
all mapped-out : a program of the whole drama ; 
which he then step by step dramatically unfolded 
with all manner of cunning, deceptive drama- 
turgy, as he went on, — the hollow scheming 
'TiroKpiTTis, or Play-actor, that he was ! This is 
a radical perversion ; all but universal in such 
cases. And think for an instant how different 
the fact is ! How much does one of us foresee 
of his own life ? Short way ahead of us it is all 
dim ; an ///Avound skein of possibilities, of appre- 
hensions, attemptabilities, vague-looming hopes. 
This Cromwell had /w^ his life lying all in that 
fashion of Program, which he needed then, with, 
that unfathomable cunning of his, only to enact 
dramatically, scene after scene ! Not so. We. 
see it so ; but to him it was in no measure so. 
What absurdities would fall-away of themselves^ 
were this one undeniable fact kept honestly in 
view by History ! Historians indeed will tell you- 
that they do keep it in view ; — but look whether 
such is practically the fact ! Vulgar History, as. 
in this CromwelFs case, omits it altogether; 
even the best kinds of History only remember it 
now and then. To remember it duly with rig- 
orous perfection, as in the fact it stoo^Z, requires 
indeed a rare faculty; rare, nay impossible. A 
very Shakspeare for faculty; or more than 
Shakspeare ; who could enac^ a brother man's 

296 Xectures on Iberoes. 

biography, see with the brother man's eyes at all 
points of his course what things he saw ; in short, 
know his course and him, as few ' Historians ' are 
like to do. Half or more of all the thick-plied 
perversions which distort our image of Crom- 
well, will disappear, if we honestly so. much as try 
to represent them so ; in sequence, as they were; 
not in the lump, as they are thrown-down before us. 
But a second error, which I think the generality 
commit refers to this same ' ambition ' 'itself. 
We exaggerate the ambition of Great Men ; we 
mistake what the nature of it is. . Great Alen are, 
not ambitious in that sense ; he is a small poor 
man that is ambitious so. Examine the man who 
lives in misery because he does not shine above 
other men ; who goes about producing himself, pru- 
riently anxious about his gifts and claims ; strug- 
gling to forcie everybody, as it were begging every- 
body for God's sake, to acknowledge him a great 
man, and set him over the heads of men ! Such a 
creature is among the wretchedest sights seen 
under this sun. A great man ? A poor mo/bid 
prurient empty man ; fitter for the ward of a hos- 
pital, than for a throne among men. I advise 
you to keep-out of his way. He cannot walk on 
quiet paths ; unless you will look at him, wonder 
at him, write paragraphs about him, he cannot 
live. It is the emptiness of the man, not his great- 
ness. Because there is nothing in himself, he 
hungers and thirsts that you would find something 
in him. In good truth, I believe no great man, 
not so much as a genuine man who had health 
and real substance in him of whatever magni- 
tude, was ever much tormented in this way. 

Zbc 1bcro as Iktng. 297 

Your Cromwell, what good could it do him to 
be ' noticed ' by noisy crowds of people ? God 
his Maker already noticed him. He, Cromwell, 
was already there ; no notice would make /lim 
other than he already was. Till his hair was 
grown gray ; and Life from the downhill slope 
was all seen to be limited, not infinite but finite, 
and all a- measurable matter /w7i' it went, — he had 
been -content to plough the ground, and read his 
Bible. He in his old days could not support it 
any longer, without selling himself to Falsehood, 
that he might ride in gilt carriages to Whitehall, 
and have clerks with bundles of papers haunting 
him, " Decide this, decide that,'' which in utmost 
sorrow of heart no man can perfectly decide ! 
What could gilt carriages do for this man ? From 
of old, was there not in his life a weight of mean- 
ing, a terror and a splendor as of Heaven itself ? 
His existence there as man set him beyond the 
need of gilding. Death, Judgment and Eternity : 
these already lay as the background of whatso- 
ever he thought or did. All his life lay begirt 
as in a sea of nameless Thoughts, which no speech 
of a mortal could name. God's Word, as the 
Puritan prophets of that tmie had read it : this 
was great, and all else was little to him. To call 
such a man ' ambitious,' to figure him as the pru- 
rient windbag described above, seems to me the 
poorest solecism. Such a man will say : " Keep 
your gilt carriages and huzzaing mobs, keep your 
red-tape clerks, your influentialities, your impor- 
tant businesses. Leave me alone, leave me alone ; 
there is ^00 7nuch of life in me already!" Old 
Samuel Johnson, the greatest soul in England in 

,298 Xectures on Iberocs. 

'his day, was not ambitious. ' Corsica Boswell ^ 
flaunted at public shows with printed ribbons 
round his hat ; but the great old Samuel stayed 
at home. The world-wide soul wrapt-up in its 
thoughts, in its sorrows ; — what could paradings, 
and ribbons in the hat, do for it ? 

Ah yes, I will say again : The great sil€7it 
men ! Looking round on the noisy inanity of the 
w^orld, words with little meaning, actions with 
little worth, one loves to reflect on the great Em- 
pire of Silejice. The noble silent men, scattered 
here and there, each in his department ; silently- 
thinking, silently working ; whom no Morning 
Newspaper makes mention of ! They are the 
salt of the Earth. A country that has none or 
few of these is in a bad way. Like a forest which 
had no roots ; which had all turned into leaves 
and boughs ; — which must soon wither and be no 
forest. Woe for us if we had nothing but what 
we can show, or speak. Silence, the great Em- 
pire of Silence : higher than the stars ; deeper 
than the Kingdoms of Death ! It alone is great; 
all else is small. — I hope we English will long 
maintain our grand talent pour le silence. Let 
others that cannot do without standing on barrel- 
heads, to spout, and be seen of all the market- 
place, cultivate speech exclusively, — become a 
most green forest without roots ! Solomon says, 
There is a time to speak ; but also a time to keep 
silence. Of some great silent Samuel, not urged 
to writing, as old Samuel Johnson says he was, by 
wa?it of money, and nothing other, one might ask, 
"Why do not you too get up and speak ; promul- 
gate your system, found your sect ? " " Truly/' 

^be 1berd as Iking. 299^ 

he will answer, "I am continent of my thought 
hitherto ; happily I have yet had the ability to 
keep it in me, no compulsion strong enough to 
speak it. My * system ' is not for promulgation 
first of all ; it is for serving myself to live by. 
That is the great purpose of it to me. And then 
the ' honor ' ? Alas, yes ; — but as Cato said of 
the statue : So many statues in that Forum of 
yours, may it not be better if they ask, Where is 

Cato's statue ? " ■ 

But now, by way of counterpoise to this of 
Silence, let me say that there are two kinds of 
ambition ; one wholly blamable, the other laud- 
able and inevitable. Nature has provided that the 
great silent Samuel shall not be silent too long. 
The selfish wish to shine over others, let it be 
accounted altogether poor and miserable. ' Seek- 
est thou great things, seek them not : ' this is most 
true. And yet, I say, there is an irrepressible ten- 
dency in every man to develop himself according to 
the magnitude which Nature has made him of ; to 
speak-out, to act-out, what Nature has laid in him. 
This is proper, fit, inevitable ; nay it is a duty, and 
even the summary of duties for a man. The 
meaning of life here on earth might be defined 
as consisting in this : To unfold your self, to work 
what thing you have the faculty for. It is a ne- 
cessity for the human being, the first law of our 
existence. Coleridge beautifully remarks that the 
infant learns to speak by this necessity it feels. — 
We will say therefore : To decide about ambition^ 
whether it is bad or not, you have two things to 
take into view. Not the coveting of the place alone, 
but the fitness for the man of the place withal : 


Xc:ture5 on Iberoes. 

that is the question. Perhaps the place was his , 
perhaps he had a natural right, and even obliga- 
tion, to seek the place ! Mirabeau's ambition to be 
Prime Minister, how shall we blame it, if he were 
* the only man in France that could have done an}? 
good there ' ? Hopefuler perhaps had he not so 
clearly felt how much good he could do ! But 
a poor Necker, who could do no good, and had 
even felt that he could do none, yet sitting broken- 
hearted because they had flung him out, and he 
was now quit of it, well might Gibbon mourn 
over him. — Nature, I say, has provided amply 
that the silent great man shall strive to speak 
withal ; too amply, rather ! 

Fancy, for example, you had revealed to the 
brave old Samuel Johnson, in his shrouded-up 
existence, that it was possible for him to do price- 
less divine work for his country and the whole 
world. That the perfect Heavenly Law might be 
made Law on this Earth ; that the prayer he 
prayed daily, ' Thy kingdom come,' was at length 
to be fulfilled ! If you had convinced his judgment 
of this ; that it was possible, practicable ; that he 
the mournful silent Samuel was called to take a 
part in it ! Would not the whole soul of the man 
have flamed-up into a divine clearness, into noble 
utterance and determination to act ; casting all 
sorrows and misgivings under his feet, counting 
all affliction and contradiction small, — the whole 
dark element of his existence blazing into artic- 
ulate radiance of light and lightning ? It were 
a true ambition this ! And think now how it 
actually was with Cromwell. From of old, the 
sufferings of God's Church, true zealous Preachers 

^'oe 1bero as TKing. 301 

of the truth flung into dungeons, whipt, set on 
pillories, their ears cropt-off, God's Gospel-cause 
trodden under foot of the unworthy : all this had 
lain heavy on his soul. Long years he had looked 
upon it, in silence, in prayer ; seeing no remedy 
on Earth ; trusting well that a remedy in Heaven's 
goodness would come, — that such a course was 
false, unjust, and could not last forever. And 
now behold the dawn of it ; after twelve years 
silent waiting, all England stirs itself ; there is to 
be once more a Parliament, the Right will get a 
voice for itself : inexpressible well-grounded hope 
has come again into the Earth. Was not such a 
Parliament worth being a member of ? Cromwell 
threw down his ploughs, and hastened thither. 

He spoke there, — rugged bursts of earnestness, 
of a self-seen truth, wdiere we get a glimpse of 
them. He worked there ; he fought and strove, 
like a strong true giant of a man, through cannon- 
tumult and all else, — on and on, till the Cause 
triumphed, its once so formidable enemies all 
swept from before it, and the dawn of hope had 
become clear light of victory and certainty. That 
he stood there as the strongest soul of England, 
the undisputed Hero of all England, — what of 
this ? It was possible that the Law of Christ's 
Gospel could now establish itself in the world ! 
The Theocracy which John Knox in his pulpit 
might dream of as a ' devout imagination,' this 
practical man, experienced in the whole chaos 
of most rough practice, dared to consider as ca- 
pable of being realized. Those that were highest 
in Christ's Church, the devoutest wisest men, 
were to rule the land : in some considerable 

302 Xectures on Ibccoes. " 

degree, it so and should be' so. Was it 
not ^rue, God's truth ? And if true, was it not then 
the very thing to do ? The strongest practical 
intellect in England dared to answer, Yes ! This 
I call a noble true purpose ; is it not, in its own 
dialect, the noblest that could enter into the heart 
of Statesman or man ? For a Knox to take it up 
was something ; but for a Cromwell, with his great 
sound sense and experience of what our world 
was, — History, I think, shows it only this once in 
such a degree. I account it the culminating point 
of Protestantism ; the most heroic phasis that 
' Faith in the Bible ' was appointed to exhibit here 
below. Fancy it : that it were made manifest to 
one of us, how we could make the Right su- 
premely victorious over Wrong, and all that we had 
longed and prayed for, as the highest good to 
England and all lands, an attainable fact ! 

Well, I must say, the vulpi7ie intellect, with 
its knowingness, its alertness and expertness in 
' detecting hypocrites,' seems to me a rather sorry 
business. We have had but one such Statesman 
in England ; one man, that I can get sight of, 
who ever had in the heart of him any silch pur- 
pose at all. One man, in the course of fifteen- 
hundred years ; and this was his welcome. He 
had adherents by the hundred or the ten ; op- 
ponents by the million. Had England rallied all 
round him, — why, then, England might have been 
a Christian land ! As it is, vulpine knowingness 
sits yet at its hopeless problem, ' Given a world 
of Knaves, to educe an Honesty from their 
united action ; ' — how cumbrous a problem, you 
may see in Chancery Law-Courts, and some other 

Zbc 1bero as Iktng, 303 

places ! Till at length, by Heaven's just anger, 
but also by Heaven's great grace, the matter 
begins to stagnate ; and this problem is becoming 
to all men 2, palpably hopeless one. — 

But with regard to Cromwell and his purposes ; 
Hume, and a multitude following him, come upon 
me here with an admission that Cromwell was 
sincere at first ; a sincere ' Fanatic ' at first, but 
gradually became a ' Hypocrite ' as things opened 
round him. This of the Fanatic-Hypocrite is 
Hume's theory of it ; extensively applied since, — ■ 
to Mahomet and many others. Think of it 
seriously, yci will find something in it ; not much, 
not all, ver^ far from all. Sincere hero hearts 
do not sink in this miserable manner. The Sun, 
flings-forth impurities, gets balefully incrusted 
with spots ; but it does not quench itself, and 
become no Sun at all, but a mass of Darkness \ 
I will^enture to say that such never befell a great 
de^p Cromwell ; I think, never. Nature's own 
lion-Jiearted Son ; Antaeus-like, his strength is 
got by touching the Eat'th, his Mother ; lift him 
up from the Earth, lift him up into Hypocrisy, 
Inanity, his strength is gone. We will not 
assert that Cromwell was an immaculate man ; 
that he fell into no faults, no insincerities among 
the rest. He was no dilettante professor of 
'perfections,' 'immaculate conducts.' He was 
a rugged Orson, rending his rough way through 
actual true work^ — doubtless with many a fall 
therein. Insincerities, faults, very many faults 
daily and hourly : it was too well known to him ; 
known to God and him ! The Sun was dimmed 

304 ^Lectures on Iberocs. 

many a time ; but the Sun had not himself 
grown a Dimness. Cromwell's last words, as he 
lay waiting for death, are those of a Christian 
heroic man. Broken prayers to God, that He 
would judge him and this Cause, He since man 
could not, in justice yet in pity. They are most 
touching words. He breathed-out his wild great 
soul, its toils and sins all ended now, into the 
presence of his Maker, in this manner. 

I, for one, will not call the man a Hypocrite ! 
Hypocrite, mummer, the life of him a mere 
theatricality ; empty barren quack, hungry for the 
shouts of mobs ? The man had made obscurity 
do very well for him till his head was gray ; and 
now he was^ there as he stood recognized un- 
blamed, the virtual King of England. Cannot a 
man do without King's Coaches and Cloaks } 
Is it such a blessedness to have clerks forever 
pestering you with bundles of papers in red tape ? 
A simple Diocletian prefers planting of cabbages ; 
a George Washington, no very immeasurable man, 
does the like. One would say, it is what any 
genuine man couJd do ; and would do. The 
instant his real work were out in the matter of 
Kingship, — away with it ! 

Let us remark, meanwhile, how indispensable 
everywhere ^ King is, in all movements of men. 
It is strikingly shown, in this very War, what 
becomes of men when they cannot find a Chief 
Man, and their enemies can. The Scotch Nation 
was all but unanimous in Puritanism ; zealous 
and of one mind about it, as in this English end 
of the Island was always far from being the case. 
But there was no great Cromwell among them ; 

^be Ibero as Iking, 305 

poor tremulous, hesitating, diplomatic Argyles 
and suchlike ; none of them had a heart true 
enough for the truth, or durst commit himself to 
the truth. They had no leader ; and the scattered 
Cavalier party in that country had one ; Montrose, 
the noblest of all the Cavaliers ; an accomplished, 
gallant-hearted, splendid man ; what one may call 
the Hero-Cavalier. Well, look at it ; on the one 
hand subjects without a King ; on the other a 
King without subjects ! The subjects without 
King can do nothing ; the "subjectless King can 
do something. This Montrose, with a handful of 
Irish or Highland savages, few of them so much 
as guns in their hands, dashes at the drilled 
Puritan armies like a wild whirlwind ; sweeps 
them, time after time, some five times over, from 
the field before him. He was at one period, for 
a short while, master of all Scotland. One nlan ; 
but he was a man : a million zealous men, but 
without the one ; they against him were power- 
less ! Perhaps of all the persons in that Puritan 
struggle, from first to last, the single indispen- 
sable one was verily Cromwell. To see and dare, 
and decide ; to be a fixed pillar in the welter of 
uncertainty ; — a King among them, whether they 
called him so or not. 

Precisely here, however, lies the rub for Crom- 
well. His other proceedings have all found 
advocates, and stand generally justified ; but 
this dismissal of the Rump Parliament and as- 
sumption of the Protectorship, is what no one can 
pardon him. He had fairly grown to be King 
in England ; Chief Man of the victorious party in 

-306 Xectures on 1beroc6. 

England : but it seems he could not do without 
the King's Cloak, and sold himself to perdition in 
order to get it. Let us see a little how this was. 

England, Scotland, Ireland, all lying now sub- 
dued at the feet of the Puritan Parliament, the 
practical question arose. What was to be done, 
with it ? How will you govern these Nations, 
which Providence in a wondrous way has given- 
up to your disposal ? Clearly those hundred 
surviving members of the Long Parliament, who 
sit there as supreme authority, cannot continue 
forever to sit. What is to be done ? — It was a 
question which theoretical constitution-builders 
may find easy to answer ; but to Cromwell, 
looking there into the real practical facts of it, 
there could be none more complicated. He asked 
of the Parliament, What it was they would decide 
upon ? It was for the Parliament to say. Yet 
the Soldiers too, however contrary to Formula, 
they who had purchased this victory with their 
blood, it seemed to them that they also should 
have something to say in it ! We will not " For 
all our fighting have nothing but a little piece of 
paper." We understand that the Law of God's 
Gospel, to which He through us has given the 
victory, shall establish itself, or try to establish 
itself, in this land ! 

For three years, Cromwell says, this question 
had been sounded in the ears of the Parliament. 
They could make no answer ; nothing but talk, 
talk. Perhaps it lies in the nature of parliament- 
ary bodies ; perhaps no Parliament could in such 
case make any answer but even that of talk, talk ! 
Nevertheless the question must and shall be 

XTbe 1bcro as Iking. 307 

answered. You sixty men there, becoming fast 
odious, even despicable, to the whole nation, 
whom the nation already calls Rump Parliament, 
you cannot continue to sit there : who or what 
then is to follow ? ' Free Parliament,' right of 
Election, Constitutional Formulas of one sort or 
the other, — the thing is a hungry Fact coming on 
us, which we must answer or be devoured by it ! 
And who are you that prate of Constitutional 
Formulas, rights of Parliament ? You have had 
to kill your King, to make Pride's Purges, to 
expel and banish by the law of the stronger who- 
soever would not let your Cause prosper : there are 
but fifty or three-score of you left there, debating 
in these days. Tell us what we shall do ; not in 
the way of Formula, but of practicable Fact ! 

How they did finally answer, remains obscure 
to this day. The diligent Godwin himself admits 
that he cannot make it out. The likeliest is, 
that this poor Parliament still would not, and 
indeed could not dissolve and disperse ; that when 
it came to the point of actually dispersing, they 
again, for the tenth or twentieth time, adjourned 
it, — and Cromwell's patience failed him. But we 
v.-ill take the favorablest hypothesis ever started 
for the Parliament ; the favorablest, though I 
believe it is not the true one, but too favorable. 

According to this version : At the uttermost 

crisis, when Cromwell and his Officers were met 

on the one hand, and the fifty or sixty Rump 

Members on the other, it was suddenly told 

Cromwell that the Rump in its despair was 

answering in a very singular way ; that in their 

splenetic envious despair, to keep-out the Army 

3o8 ^Lectures on Iberoes, 

at least, these men were hurrying through the 
House a kind of Reform Bill, — Parliament to be 
chosen by the whole of England ; equable electoral 
division into districts ; free quffrage, and the rest 
of it ! A very questionable, or indeed for thein 
an unquestionable thing. Ref6rm Bill, free 
suffrage of Englishmen ? Why, the Royalists, 
themselves, silenced indeed but not exterminated, 
perhaps ow^iiumber us ; the great numerical 
majority of England was always indifferent to our 
Cause, merely looked at it and submitted to it. 
It is in weight and force, not by counting of 
heads, that we are the majority ! And now with 
your Formulas and Reform Bills, the whole 
matter sorely won by our swords, shall again 
launch itself to sea ; become a mere hope, and 
likelihood, small even as a likelihood ? And it 
is not a likelihood ; it is a certainty, which v/e 
have won, by God's strength and our own right 
hands, and do now hold here. Cromwell walked 
down to these refractory Members ; interrupted 
them in that rapid speed of their Reform Bill ; — 
ordered them to begone, and talk there no more. 
— Can we not forgive him ? Can we not un- 
derstand him ? John Milton, who looked on it 
all near at hand, could applaud him. The Reality 
had swept the Formulas away before it. I fancy, 
most men who were realities in England might 
see into the necessity of that. 

The strong daring man, therefore, has set all 
manner of Formulas and logical superficialities 
against him ; has dared appeal to the genuine 
Fact of this England, Whether it will support 
him or not .'' It is curious to see how he strug- 

Zbc 1bero as Ikino. 309 

gles to govern in some constitutional way ; find 
some Parliament to support him ; but cannot. 
His first Parliament, the one they call Barebones's 
P2{rliament, is, so to speak, a Convocation of the 
Notables. F^ropi all quarters of England the lead- 
ing Ministers and chief Puritan Officials nomi- 
nate the men " most distinguished by religious 
reputation, influence and attachment to the true 
Cause : these are assembled to shape-out a plan. 
They sanctioned what was past ; shaped as they 
could what was to come. They were scornfully 
called Barehofies's Parliavient., the man's name, 
it seems, was not Barebones, but Barbone, — a 
good enough man. Nor was it a jest, their work ; 
it was a most serious reality, — a trial on the part 
of these Puritan Notables how far the Law of 
Christ could become the Law of this England. 
There were men of sense among them, men of 
some quality ; men of deep piety I suppose the 
most of them were. They failed, it seems, and 
broke-down, endeavoring to reform the Court of 
Chancery ! They dissolved themselves, as incom- 
petent ; delivered-up their power again into the 
hands of the Lord General Cromwell, to do with it 
what he liked and could. 

What 7vi/l he do with it ? The Lord General 
Cromwell, ' Commander-in-chief of all the Forces 
raised and to be -raised ; ' he hereby sees himself, 
at this tmexampled juncture, as it were the one 
available Authority left in England, nothing 
between England and utter Anarchy but him 
alone. Such is the undeniable Fact of his posi- 
tion and England's, there and then. What will 
he do with it t After deliberation, he decides that 


Xcctures on Iberoes. 

he will accept it ; will formally, with public solem. 
nity, say and vow before God and men, " Yes, 
the Fact is so, and I will do the best I can with 
it ! " Protectorship, Instrument of Government, 
■ — these are the external forms .of the thing ; 
worked out and sanctioned as they could in the 
circumstances be, by the Judges, by the leading 
Official people, ' Council of Officers and Persons 
of interest in the Nation : ' and as for the thing 
itself, undeniably enough, at the pass matters 
had now come to, there was no alternative but 
Anarchy or that. Puritan England might accept 
it or not ; but Puritan England was, in real truth, 
saved from suicide thereby! — I believe the Puri- 
tan People did, in an inarticulate, grumbling, yet 
on the whole grateful and real way, accept this 
anomalous act of Oliver's ; at least, he and they 
together made it good, and always better to the 
last. But in their Parliamentary articulate way, 
they had their difficulties, and never knew fully 
what to say to it ! — 

Oliver's second Parliament, properly his Jirst 
regular Parliament, chosen by the rule laid-down 
in the Instrument of Government, did assemble, 
and worked ; — but got, before long, into bottom- 
less questions as to the Protector's 7'ig/it, as ta 
' usurpation,' and so forth ; and had at the earliest 
legal day to be dismissed. Cromwell's conclud- 
ing Speech to these men is a remarkable one. So 
likewise to his third Parliament, in similar rebuke 
for their pedantries and obstinacies. Most rude, 
chaotic, all these Speeches are ; but most earnest- 
looking. You would say, it was a sincere, help' 
less man ; not used to speak the great inorganic 

^be fbcvo as Iklna, 311 

thought of him, but to act it rather ! A helpless- 
ness of utterance, in such bursting fulness of 
meaning. , He talks much about ' births of Provi- 
dence : ' All these changes, so many victories 
and events, were not forethoughts, and theatrical 
contrivances of men, of me or of men ; it is blind 
blasphemers that will persist in calling them so ! 
He insists with a heavy sulphurous wrathful 
emphasis on this. As he well might. As if a 
Cromwell in that dark huge game he had been 
playing, the world wholly thrown into chaos 
round him, h3.d foreseen it all, and played it all off 
like a precontrived puppet-show by wood and wire ! 
These things were foreseen by no man, he says ; 
no man could tell what a day would bring forth : 
they -were ' births of Providence,' God's finger 
guided us on, and we came at last to clear height 
of victory, God's Cause triumphant in these 
Nations ; and you as a Parliament could assemble 
together, and say in what manner all this could be 
organized^ reduced into rational feasibility among 
the affairs of men. You were to help with your 
wise counsel in doing that. " You have had such 
an opportunity as no Parliament in England ever 
had." Christ's Law, the Right and True, was to 
be in some measure made the Law of this land. 
In place of that, you have got into your idle ped- 
antries, constitutionalities, bottomless cavillings 
and questionings about written laws for my coming 
here ; — and would send the whole matter in Chaos 
again, because I have no Notary's parchment, 
but only God's voice from the battle-whirlwind, 
for being President among you ! That opportu- 
nity is gone ; and we know not when it will return. 

312 Xectures on Iberocs. 

You have had your constitutional Logic ; and 
Mammon's Law, not Christ's Law, rules yet in 
.this land. " God be judge between you and 
me ! " These are his final words to them : Take 
you your constitution-formulas in your hand ; and 
I my ///formal struggles, purposes, realities and 
acts ; and " God be judge between you and me ! '' 
We said above what shapeless, involved chaotic 
things the printed Speeches of Cromwell are. 
Wilfully ambiguous, unintelligible, say the most : 
a hypocrite shrouding himself in confused 
Jesuitic jargon ! To me they do not seem so. I 
will say rather, they afforded the first glimpses 
I could ever get into the reality of this Cromwell, 
nay into the possibility of him. Try to believe 
that he means something, search lovingly what 
that may be : you will find a real speech lying 
imprisoned in these broken rude tortuous 
utterances ; a meaning in the great heart of this 
inarticulate man ! You will, for the first time, 
begin to see that he was a man ; not an enigmatic 
chimera, unintelligible to you, incredible to you. 
The Histories and Biographies written of this^ 
Cromwell, written in shallow sceptical generations 
that could not know or conceive of a deep believ- 
ing man, are far more obscure than Cromwell's 
Speeches. You look through them only into the 
infinite vague of Black and the Inane. ' Heats and 
jealousies,' says Lord Clarendon himself : ' heats 
and jealousies,' mere crabbed whims, theories and 
crotchets ; these induced slow sober quiet English- 
men to lay down their ploughs and work ; and 
fly into red fury of confused war against the best- 
conditioned of Kings ! 2ry if you can find that 

Zbc Ibero as Iking, 313 

true. Scepticism writing about Belief may have 
great gifts ; but it is really 7i/^ra vz'res there. It 
is Blindness laying-down the Laws of Optics. — 

Cromwell's third Parliament split on the same 
rock as his second. Ever the constitutional 
Formula : How came jou there ? Show us some 
Notary parchment ! Blind pedants : — " Why, 
surely the same power which makes you a Parlia- 
ment, that, and something more, made me a 
Protector ! " If my Protectorship is nothing, what 
in the name of wonder is your Parliamenteership, 
a reflex and creation of that ? — 

Parliaments having failed, there remained 
nothing- but the way of Despotism. MiUtary 
Dictators, each with his district, to coe/re the 
Royalist and other gainsayers, to govern them, if 
not by act of Parliament, then by the sword. 
Formula shall nof carry it, while the Reality is 
here ! I will go on, protecting oppressed Prot- 
estants abroad, appointing just judges, wise 
managers, at home, cherishing true Gospel 
ministers ; doing the best I can to make England 
a Christian Enoland, "greater than old Rome, the 
^Queen of Protestant Christianity ; I, since you 
will not help me ; I while God leaves me life ! — • 
Why did he not give it up ; retire into obscurity 
sigain, since the Law would not acknowledge him ? 
cry several. That is where they mistake. For 
him there was no giving of it up ! Prime Minis- 
ters have governed countries, Pitt, Bombal, 
Choiseul ; and their word was a law while it 
held: but this Prime Minister was one that cou/d 
not get resigned. Let him once resign, Charles 
Stuart and the Cavaliers waited to kill him ; to 

314 Xectures on kbevoes. 

kill the Cause a7id him. Once embarked, there 
is no retreat, no return. This Prime Minister 
could retire no-whither except into his tomb. 

One is sorry for Cromwell in his old days. 
His complaint is incessant of the heavy burden 
Providence has laid on him. Heavy ; which he 
must bear till death. Old Colonel Hutchinson, 
as his wife relates it, Hutchinson, his old battle- 
mate, coming to see him on some indispensable 
business, much against his will, — Cromwell ' fol- 
lows him to the door,' in a most fraternal, domes- 
tic, conciliatory style ; begs that he would be 
reconciled to him, his old brother in arms ; says 
how much it grieves him to be misunderstood, 
deserted by true fellow-soldiers, dear to him from 
of old : the rigorous Hutchinson, cased in his 
Republican formula, sullenly goes his way. — And 
the man's head now white ; his strong arm growing 
weary with its long work ! I think always too 
of his poor Mother, now very old, living in that 
Palace of his ; a right brave woman ; as indeed 
they lived all an honest God-fearing Household 
there : if she heard a^ shot go-off, she thought it 
was her son killed. He had to come to her at 
least once a day, that she might see with her own 
eyes that he was yet living. The poor old 

Mother ! What had this man' gained ; what 

had he gained ? He had a life of sore strife and 
toil, to his last day. Fame, ambition, place in 
History ? His dead body was hung in chains ; 
his 'place in History,' — place in History for- 
sooth ! — has been a place of ignominy, accusa- 
tion, blackness and disgrace ; and here, this day, 
who knows if it is not rash in me to be among the 

^be 1bero as IRing. 315 

first that ever ventured to pronounce him not a 
knave and liar, but a genuinely honest man ! 
Peace to him. Did he not, in spite of all, ac- 
complish much for us ? We walk smoothly over 
his great rough heroic life ; step-over his body 
sunk in the ditch there. We need not spurn it, as 
we step on it ! — Let the Hero rest. It was not to 
viefi's judgmei;it that he appealed : nor have men 
judged him very well. 

Precisely a century and a year after this of 
Puritanism had got itself hushed-up . into decent 
composure, and its results made smooth, in 1688, 
there broke out a far deeper explosion, much 
more difficult to hush up, known to all mortals, 
and like to be long known, by the name of 
French Revolution. It is properly the third and 
final act of Protestantism ; the explosive confused 
return of mankind to Reality and Fact, now that 
they were perishing of Semblance and Sham, 
We call our English Puritanism the second a6t: 
^' Well then, the Bible is true; let us go by the 
Bible ! " " In Church," said Luther ; " In Church 
and State," said Cromwell, "let us go by what 
actually is God's Truth." Men have to return to 
reality ; they cannot live on semblance. The 
French Revolution, or third act, we may well call 
the final one ; for lower than that savage Sa?iS' 
culottisvi men cannot go. They stand there on 
the nakedest haggard Fact, undeniable in all 
seasons and circumstances ; and may and must 
begin again confidently to build-up from that. 
The French explosion, like the English one, got 
its King, — who had no Notary parchment to show 
for himself. We have still to glance for a mo- 
rnent at Napoleon, our second modern King. 

3i6 Xecturcs on Tdcxocs. 

Napoleon does by no means seem to me so 
great a man as Cromwell. His enormous victories 
which reached over all Europe, while Cromwell 
abode mainly in our little England, are but as the 
high sfi/ts on which the man is seen standing ; 
the stature of the man is not altered thereby. I 
6nd in him no such sincerity as in Cromwell ; 
only a far inferior sort. No silent walking, 
through long years, with the Awful Unnamable of 
this Universe; ' walking with God,' as he called 
it ; and faith and strength in that alone : latent 
thought and valor, content to lie latent, then 
burst out as in blaze of Heaven's lightning! 
Napoleon lived in an age when God was no longer 
believed ; the meaning of all Silence, Latency, 
was thought to be Nonentity : he had to begin 
not out of the Puritan Bible, but out of poor 
Sceptical Encyclopedies. This was the length the 
rnan carried it. Meritorious to get so far. His 
compact, prompt, everyway articulate character 
is^ in itself perhaps small, compared with our 
great chaotic ///articulate Cromwell's. Instead of 
' dumb Prophet struggling to speak,' we have a por- 
tentous mixture of the Quack withal ! Hume's 
notion of the Fanatic-Hypocrite, with such truth 
as it has, will apply much better to Napoleon 
than it did to Cromwell, to Mahomet or the like, 
— where indeed taken strictly it has hardly any 
truth at all. An element of blamable ambition 
shows itself, from the first, in this man ; gets the 
victory over him at last, and involves him and his 
work in ruin. 

' False as a bulletin ' became a proverb in 
Napoleon's time. He makes what excuse he 

Zbc fbcvo as 1kin^, 317 

could for it: that it was necessary to mislead 
the enemy, to keep-up his own men's courage, and 
so forth. On the whole, there are no excuses. 
A man in no case has liberty to tell lies. It had 
been, in the long-run, h'Uer for Napoleon too if 
he had not told any. In fact, if a man have any 
purpose reaching beyond the hour and day, meant 
to be found extant Picxf day, what good can it ever 
be to promulgate lies ? The lies are found-out ; 
ruinous penalty is exacted for them. No man 
will believe the liar next time even when he 
speaks truth, when it is of the last importance 
that he be believed. The old cry of wolf ! — A 
Lie is 7/^-thing ; you cannot of nothing make 
something ; you make nothing at last, and lose 
your labor into the bargain. 

Yet Napoleon had a sincerity : we are to dis- 
tinguish between what is superficial and what is 
fundamental in insincerity. Across these outer 
manceuverings and quackeries of his, which were 
many and most blamable, let us discern withal 
that the man had a certain instinctive ineradi- 
cable feeling for reality ; and did base himself 
upon fact, so long as he had any basis. He has 
an instinct of Nature better than his culture was. 
His savans^ Bourrienne tells us, in that voyage to 
Egypt were one evening busily occupied arguing 
that there could be no God. They had proved 
it, to their satisfaction, by all manner of logic. 
Napoleon looking up into the stars, answers, 
" Very ingenious. Messieurs, but ivho 7tiade all 
that ? " The Atheistic logic runs-off from him 
like v/ater ; the great Fact stares him in the face : 
" Who made all that t " So too in Practice : hci 


3i8 %cctmc3 on Iberoes, 

as every man that can be great, or have victory in 
this world, sees, through all entanglements, the 
practical heart of the matter ; drives straight to- 
wards that. When the steward of his Tuileries 
Palace was exhibiting the new upholstery, with 
praises, and demonstration how glorious it was, 
and how cheap withal, Napoleon, making little 
answer, asked for a pair of scissors, dipt one of 
the gold tassels from a window-curtain, put it in 
his pocket, and walked on. Some days afterwards, 
he produced it at the right moment, to the horror 
of his upholstery functionary ; it was not gold but 
tinsel ! In Saint Helena, it is notable how he still, 
to his last days, insists on the practical, the real. 
" Why talk and complain ; above all, why quarrel 
with one another ? There is no rest^U in it ; it 
comes to nothing that one can do. Say nothing, 
if one can do-nothing ! " He speaks often so, to 
his poor discontented followers ; he is like a piece 
©f silent strength in the middle of their morbid 
querulousness there. 

And accordingly was there not what we can call 
2i faith in him, genuine so far as it went ? That 
this new enormous Democracy asserting itself 
here in the French Revolution is an insuppress- 
ible Fact, which the whole world, with its old 
forces and institutions, cannot put down ; this 
was a true insight of his, and took his conscience 
and enthusiasm along with it, — 2. faith. And did 
he not interpret the dim purport of it well 1 ' La 
carriere ouverte aux talens., The implements to 
him who can handle them : ' this actually is the 
truth, and even the whole truth ; it includes what- 
_ever the French Revolution, or any Revolution, 

XLbc 1bero as Iking. 319 

could mean. Napoleon, in his first period, was a 
true Democrat. Arid yet by the nature of him, 
fostered too by his military trade, he knew that 
Democracy, if it were a true thing at all, could 
not be an anarchy : the man had a heart-hatred 
for anarchy. On that Twentieth of June (1792), 
Bourriefine and he sat in a coffee-house, as the 
mob rolled by : Napoleon expresses the deepest 
contempt for persons in authority that they do 
not restrain this rabble. On the Tenth of August 
he wonders why there is no man to command 
these poor Swiss ; they would conquer if there 
were. Such a faith in Democracy, yet hatred of 
anarchy, it is that carries Napoleon through all 
his great work. Through his brilliant Italian 
Campaigns, onwards to the Peace of Leoben, one 
would say, his inspiration is : ' Triumph to the 
'French Revolution; assertion of it against these 
' Austrian Simulacra that pretend to call it a 
* Simulacrum ! ' Withal, however, he feels, and 
has a right to feel, how necessary a strong Au- 
thority is ; how the Revolution cannot prosper 
or last without such. To bridle-in that great 
devouring, self-devouring French Revolution ; to 
tame it, so that its intrinsic purpose can be made 
good^ that it may become organic, and be able to 
live among other organisms an d/^r^/z^^^ things, 
not as a wasting destruction alone : is not this 
still what he partly aimed at, as the true purport 
of his life ; nay, what he actually managed to do ? 
Through Wagrams, Austerlitzes ; triumph after 
triumph, — he triumphed so far. There was an 
eye to see in this man, a soul to dare and do. 
He rose naturally to be the King. All men saw 


Xectures on Iberoes. 

that he was such. The common soldiers used to 
say on the march : " These babbUng Avocats^ 
up at Paris ; all talk and no work ! What 
wonder it runs all wrong ? We shall have to go 
and put our Petit Caporal there ! " They went, 
and put him there ; they and France at large. 
Chief-consulship, Emperorship, victory over Eu- 
rope ; — till the poor Lieutenant of La Fere, not 
unnaturally, might seem to himself the great- 
est of all men that had been in the world for 
some ages. 

But at this point, I think, the fatal charlatan- 
element got the- upper hand. He apostatized 
from his old faith in Facts, took to believing in 
Semblances ; strove to connect himself with Aus- 
trian Dynasties, Popedoms, with the old false 
Feudalities which he once saw clearly to be false ; 
— considered that he would found "his Dynasty'^ 
and so forth ; that the enormous French Revolu- 
tion meant only that ! The man was ' given-up ta 
strong delusion, that he should believe a lie ; ' a 
fearful but most sure thing. He did not know 
true from false now when he looked at them, — 
the fearfulest penalty a man pays for yielding to 
untruth of heart. Self and false ambition had 
now become his god : ^<?^deception once yielded 
to, ^// other deceptions follow naturally more and 
more. What a paltry patchwork of theatrical 
paper-mantles, tinsel and muir.LTiery, had this man 
WTapt his own great reality in, thinking to make it 
more real thereby ! Hii hollow Yo'^^ s- Concordat, 
pretending to be a re-establishment of Cathol- 
icism, felt by himself to be the method of extirpat- 
ing it, " la vaccifie de la religio?i : " his ceremonial 

^be Ibero as Iking. 32^ 

Coronations, consecrations by the old Italian 
Chimera in Notre-Dame, — "wanting nothing to 
complete the pomp of it," as Augereau said, 
" nothing but the half-million of men who had 
died to put an end to all that ! " Cromwell's 
Inauguration was by the Sword and Bible; what 
we must call a genuinely true one. Sword and 
Bible were borne before him, without any chimera : 
were not these the 7'eal emblems of Puritanism ; 
its true decoration and insignia ? It had used 
them both in a very real manner, and pretended 
to stand by them now ! But this poor Napoleon 
mistook : he believed too much in the Diipeability 
of men ; saw no fact deeper in man than Hunger 
and this ! He was mistaken. Like a man that 
should build upon cloud ; his house and he fall 
down in confused wreck, and depart out of the 

Alas, in all of us this charlatan-element exists •, 
and might be developed, were the temptation 
strong enough. 'Lead us not into temptation ! ' 
But it is fatal, I say, that it be developed. The 
thing into which it enters as a cognizable ingre- 
dient is doomed to be altogether transitory ; and, 
however huge it may look^ is in itself small. Na- 
poleon's working, accordingly, what was it with all 
the noise it made ? A flash as of gunpowder 
wide-spread ; a blazing-up as of dry heath. For 
an hour the whole Universe seems wrapt in smoke 
and flame ; but only for an hour. It goes out : 
the Universe with its old mountains and streams, 
its stars above and kind soil beneath, is still 

The Duke of Weimar told his friends always, 

32 2 Xectures on Iberoes. 

To be of courage ; this Napoleonism was unjusty 
a falsehood, and could not last. It is true doc- 
trine. The heavier this Napoleon trampled on- 
the world, holding it tyrannously down, the fiercer 
would the world's recoil against him be, one day. 
Injustice pays itself with frightful compound- 
interest. I am not sure but he had better have 
lost his best park of artillery, or had his best 
regiment drowned in the sea, than shot that poor 
German Bookseller, Palm ! It was a palpable- 
tyrannous murderous injustice, which no man, let 
him paint an inch thick, could make out to be- 
other. It burnt deep into the hearts of men, it 
and the like of it ; suppressed fire flashed in the 
eyes of men, as they thought of it,--waiting their . 
day ! Which day came : Germany rose round 
him. — What Napoleon did will in the long-run 
amount to what he d\d Justly ; what Nature with 
her laws will sanction. To what of reality was in 
him ; to that and nothing more. The rest was- 
all smoke and waste. La carriere oiiverte aux 
tale?is : that great true Message, which has yet to 
articulate and fulfil itself everywhere, he left in a 
most inarticulate state. He was a great ebauche^ 
a rude draught never completed ; as indeed what 
great man' is other ? Left in too rude a state, 
alas ! 

His notions of the world, as he expresses them 
there at St. Helena, are almost tragical to con- 
sider. He seems to feel the most unaffected 
surprise that it has all gone so ; that he is flung- 
out on the rock here, and the World is still mov- 
ing on its axis. France is great, and all-great; 
a-nd at bottom, he is France. England itself, he 


Zbc 1bero as IRing. 323 

says, is by Nature only an appendage of France ; 
" another Isle of Oleron to France." So it was dy 
Nature^ by Napoleon-Nature ; and yet look how 
in fact — Here am I ! He cannot understand it : 
inconceivable that the reality has not corre- 
sponded to his program of it ; that France was 
not all-great, that he was not France. ' Strong 
delusion ' tliat he should believe the thing to 
be which is not ! The compact, clear-seeing, 
decisive Italian nature of him, strong, genuine, 
which he once had, has enveloped itself, half- 
dissolved itself, in a turbid atmosphere of French 
fanfaronade. The world was not disposed to be 
trodden-down underfoot ; to be bound intO" 
masses, and built together, as he liked, for a 
pedestal to France and him : the world had quite 
other purposes in view ! Napoleon's astonish- 
ment is extreme. But alas, what help now ? He 
had gone that way of his ; and Nature also had 
gone her way. Having once parted with Reality, 
he tumbles helpless in Vacuity ; no rescue for 
him. He had to sink there, mournfully as man 
seldom did ; and break his great heart, and die, 
— this poor Napoleon : a great implement too 
soon wasted, till it was useless : our last Great 
Man ! 

Our last, in a double sense. For here finally 
these wide roamings of ours through so many- 
times and places, in search and study of Heroes, 
are to terminate. I am sorry for it : there was- 
pleasure for me in this business, if also much 
pain. It is a great subject, and a most graven 
and wide one, this which, not to be too grave 

324 Xectures on Iberocs* 

about it, I have named Hero-wo7-ship. It enters 
deeply, as J think, into the secret of Mankind's 
ways and vitalest interests in this world, and is 
well worth explaining at present. With six 
months, instead of six days, we might have done 
better. I promised to break-ground on it ; I 
know not whether I have even managed to do 
that. I have had to tear it up in the rudest 
manner in order to get into it at all. Often 
enough, with these abrupt utterances thrown-out 
isolated, unexplained, has your tolerance been 
put to the trial. Tolerance, patient candor, all- 
hoping favor and kindness, which I will not 
speak of at present. The accomplished and 
distinguished, the beautiful, the wise, something 
of what is best in England have listened patiently 
to my rude words. With many feelings, I heartily 
thank you all ; and say, Good be with you all ! 

V^ «i 





Heroes : UniversaLHistory consists essentially of their 
united Biographies, pleligion not a man's church-creed, 
but his practical behcf about himself and the Universe'^ 
Both with Men and Nations it is the One fact about them 
which creatively determines all the rest. Heathenism : 
Christianity: Modern Scepticism. The Hero as Divinity. 
Paganism a fact; not Quackery, nor Allegory: Not to be 
pretentiously 'explained;' to be looked at as old Thought,, 
and with sympathy, (p. 5.) — Nature no more seems divine 
except to the Prophet or Poet, because men have ceased 
to think: To the Pagan Thinker, as to a child-man, all 
was either godlike or God. Canopus : Man. Hero-wor- 
ship the basis of Religion, Loj^alty, Society. A Hero not 
the 'creature of the time:' Hero-Vv'orship indestructible. 
Johnson: Voltaire. (13.) — Scandinavian Paganism the Re- 
ligion of our Fathers. Iceland, the home of the Norse 
Poets, described. The Edda. The primary characteristic 
of Norse Paganism, the impersonation of the visible work- 
ings of Nature. Jotuns and the Gods. Fire : Frost : Thun- 
der: The Sun: Sea-Tempest. Mythus of the Creation: 
The Life-Tree Igdrasil. The modern ' Machiiie of the 
Universe.' (24.) — The Norse Creed, as recorded, the sum- 
mation of several successive systems : Originally the shape 
given to the national thought by their first ' Man of 
Genius.' Odin : He has no history or date ; yet was no 
mere adjective, but a man of flesh and blood. How dei- 
fied. The World of Nature, to every man a Fantasy of 

326 Summary. 

Himself. (31.) — Odin the inventor of Runes, of Letters 
and Poetry. His reception as a Hero : the pattern Norse- 
Man ; a God : His shadow over the whole History of his 
People. (39.) — The essence of Norse Paganism, not so 
much Morality, as a sincere recognition of Nature: Sincer- 
ity better than Gracefulness. The Allegories, the after- 
creations of the Faith. Main practical Belief: Hall of 
Odin : Valkyrs : Destiny : Necessity of Valour. Its worth : 
Their Sea-Kings, Woodcutter Kings, our spiritual Progen- 
itors. The growth of Odinism. (43.) — The strong simplic- 
ity of Norse lore quite unrecognized by Gray. Thor's veri- 
table Norse rage : Balder, the white Sungod. How the old 
Norse heart loves the Thundergod, and sports with him : 
Huge Brobdignag genius, needing only to be tamed-down, 
into Shakspeares, Goethes. Truth in the Norse Songs: 
This World a show. Thor's Invasion of Jotunheim. The 
Ragnarok, or Twilight of the Gods: The Old must die, 
that the New and Better may be born. Thor's last ap- 
pearance. The Norse Creed a Consecration of Valour. 
It and the whole Past a possession of the Present. (49.) 



The Hero no longer regarded as a God, but as one god- 
inspired. All Heroes primarily of the same stuff ; differing 
according to their reception. The welcome of its Heroes, 
the truest test of an epoch. Odin : Burns, (p. 59.) — Ma- 
homet a true Prophet ; not a scheming Impostor. A Great 
Man, and therefore first of all a sincere man : No man to 
be judged merely by his faults. David the Hebrew King. 
Of all acts for man repentance the most divine : The dead- 
liest sin, a supercilious consciousness of none. (61.) — Ara- 
bia described. The Arabs always a gifted people ; of \\-ild 
•strong feelings, and of iron restraint over these. Their 
Religiosity: Their Star-worship: Their Prophets and in- 
spired men ; from Job downwards. Their Holy Places- 
Mecca, its site, history and government. (66.) — Mahomet. 

Summary. 327 

His youth : His fond Grandfather. Had no book-learning: 
Travels to the Syrian Fairs; and first comes in contact 
with the Christian Religion. An altogether solid, broth- 
erly, genuine man : a good laugh, and a good flash of 
anger in him withal. (71.) — Marries Kadijah. Begins his 
Prophet-career at forty years of age. Allah Akbar ; God 
is great : Islajn : we must submit to God. Do we not all 
live in Islam .^ Mahomet, ' the Prophet of God.' (74.) — The 
good Kadijah believes in him: Mahomet's gratitude. His 
slow progress : Among forty of his kindred, young All 
alone joined him. His good Uncle expostulates with him : 
Mahomet, bursting into tears, persists in his mission. The 
Hegira. Propagating by the sword : First get your sword : 
A thing will propagate itself as it can. Nature a just 
umpire. Mahomet's Creed unspeakably better than the 
wooden idolatries and jangling Syrian Sects extirpated by 
it. (79.) — The Koran, the universal standard of Mahometan 
life : An imperfectly, badly written, but genuine book : En- 
thusiastic extempore preaching, amid the hot haste of 
wrestling v.'ith flesh-and-blood and spiritual enemies. Its 
direct poetic insight. The World, Man, human Compas- 
sion ; all wholly miraculous to Mahomet. (88.) — His relig- 
ion did not succeed by 'being easy;' None can. The sen- 
sual part of it not of Mahomet's making. He himself, 
frugal ; patched his own clothes ; proved a hero in a rough 
actual trial of twenty-three years. Traits of his generosity 
and resignation. His total freedom from cant. (96.) — His 
moral precepts not always of the superfinest sort ; yet is 
there always a tendency to good in them. His Heaven 
and Hell sensual, yet not altogether so. Infinite Nature 
of Duty. The evil of sensuality, in the slavery to pleasant 
things, not in the enjoyment of them. MahomntanJsm a 
religion heartily believed. To the Arab Natien if- w^« as a 
birth from darkness into light: Arabia first bt>carna ^Uive 
by means of it. (loo.) 

328 Summarg. 



The Hero as Divinity or Prophet, inconsistent with .the 
modern progress of science : The Hero Poet, a figure com- 
mon to all ages. All Heroes at bottom the same; the dif- 
ferent sphere constituting the grand distinction : Examples. 
Varieties of aptitude, (p. io6.) — Poet and Prophet meet in 
Vates : Their Gospel the same, for the Beautiful and the 
Good are one. All men somewhat of poets ; and the 
highest Poets far from perfect. Prose, and Poetry or mit- 
sical Thoiight. Song a kind of inarticulate unfathomable 
speech : All deep things are Song. The Hero as Divinity, 
as Prophet, and then only as Poet, no indication that our 
estimate of the Great Man is diminishing : The Poet seems 
to be losing caste, but it is rather that our notions of God 
are rising higher. (io8.) — Shakspeare and Dante, Saints of 
Poetry. Dante : His history, in his Book and Portrait. 
His scholastic education, and its fruit of subtlety. His 
miseries : Love of Beatrice : His marriage not happy. A 
banished man : Will never return, if to plead guilty be the 
condition. His wanderings : " Come ^ diiro called At the 
Court of Delia Scala. The great soul of Dante, home- 
less on earth, made its home more and more in Eternity. 
His mystic, unfathomable Song. Death : Buried at Ra- 
venna. (115.) — His Divina Commedia a Song: Go deep 
enough, there is music everywhere. The sincerest of 
Poems : It has all been as if molten, in the hottest furnace 
Df his soul. Its Intensity, and Pictorial power. The three 
parts make-up the true tF nseen World of the Middle Ages: 
How the Christian Dante felt Good and Evil to be the 
two polar elements of this Creation. Paganism and Chris- 
tianism. (122.) — Ten silent centuries found a voice in Dante. 
The thing that is uttered from the inmost parts of a man's 
soul differs altogether from what is uttered by the outer. 
The 'uses ' of Dante: We will not estimate the Sun by the 

Summary. 329 

quantity of gas it saves us. Mahomet and Dante con- 
trasted. Let a man do his work ; \\\q. fruit of it is the care 
of Another than he. (132.) — As Dante embodies musically 
the Inner Life of the Middle Ages, so does Shakspeare 
embody the Outer Life which grew therefrom. The strange 
outbudding of English Existence which we call ' Eliza- 
bethan Era.' Shakspeare the chief of all Poets : His calm, 
all-seeing Intellect: His marvellous Portrait-painting. (136.) 
— The Poet's first gift, as it is all men's, that he have in- 
tellect enough, — that he be able to see. Intellect the sum- 
mary of all human gifts : Human intellect and vulpine in- 
tellect contrasted. Shakspeare' s instinctive unconscious 
greatness : His works a part of Nature, and partaking of 
her inexhaustible depth. Shakspeare greater than Dante; 
in that he not only sorrowed, but triumphed over his sor- 
rows. His mirthfulness, and genuine overflowing love of 
laughter. His Historical Plays, a kind of National Epic. 
The Battle of Agincourt : A noble Patriotism, far other 
than the ' indifference' sometimes ascribed to him. His 
works, like so many windows, through which we see 
glimpses of the world that is in him. (141). — Dante the me- 
lodious Priest of Middle-Age Catholicism : Out of this 
Shakspeare too there rises a kind of Universal Psalm, not 
unfit to make itself heard among still more sacred Psalms. 
Shakspeare an ' unconscious Prophet ;' and therein greater 
and truer than Mahomet. This poor Warwickshire Peas- 
ant worth more to us than a whole regiment of highest 
Dignitaries : Indian Empire, or Shakspeare, — which ? An 
Enc;lish King, whom no time or chance can dethrone : A 
rallying-sign and bond of brotherhood for all Saxondom : 
Wheresoever English men and women are, they will say 
to one another, ' Yes, this Shakspeare is ours T (149.) 



The Priest a kind of Prophet; but more familiar, as the 
daily enlightener of daily life. A true Reformer he who 

33 o Summary. 

appeals to Heaven's invisible justice against Earth's visible 
force. The finished Poet often a symptom that his epoch 
itself has reached perfection, and finished. Alas, the bat- 
tling Reformer, too, is at times a needful and inevitable 
phenomenon : Offences do accumulate, till they become 
insupportable. Forms of Belief, modes of life must per- 
ish ; yet the Good of the Past survives, an everlasting 
possession for us all. (p. 155.) — Idols, or visible recognized 
Symbols, common to all Religions : Hateful only when 
insincere : The property of every Hero, that he come back 
to sincerity, to reality. Protestantism and 'private judg- 
ment.' No living ;:,r munion possible among men who 
believe only in hear^a s. The Hero-Teacher, who delivers 
men out of darkness into light. Not abolition of Hero- 
worship does Protestantism mean ; but rather a whole 
World of Heroes, of sincere, believing men. (162.) — Luther; 
his obscure, seemingly-insignificant birth. His youth 
schooled in adversity ai.d stern reality. Becomes a Monk. 
His religious d^s ;:air : Discovers a Latin Bible : No wonder 
he should venerate the Bible. He visits Rome. Meets 
the Pope's fire by fire. At the Diet of Worms : The great- 
est moment in the modern History of men. (171.) — The 
Wars that followed are not to be charged to the Refor- 
mation. The Old Religion once true : The cry of ' No 
Popery ' foolish enough in these days. Protestantism not 
dead : German Literature and the French Revolution 
rather considerable signs of life! (182.) — How Luther held 
the sovereignty of the Reformation and kept Peace while 
he lived. His written Works : Their rugged homely 
strength : His dialect became the language of all writing. 
No mortal heart to be called braver, ever lived in that 
Teutonic Kindred, whose character is valor-. Yet a most 
gentle heart withal, full of pity and love, as the truly valiant 
heart ever is : Traits of character from his Table-Talk : 
His daughter's Deathbed : The miraculous in Nature, 
His love of Music. His Portrait. (184.) — Puritanism the 
only phasis of Protestantism that ripened into a living 
faith : Defective enough, but genuine. Its fruit in the 
world. The sailing of the Mayflower from Delft Haven 
the beginning of American Saxondom. In the history of 
Scotland properly but one epoch of world-interest, — the 
Reformation by Knox : A ' nation of heroes ; ' a believing 

Summary. 331 

nation. The Puritanism of Scotland became that of Eng- 
land, of New England. (191.) — Knox 'guilty' of being 
the bravest of all Scotchmen : Did not seek the post of 
Prophet. At the siege of St. Andrew's Castle. Emphat- 
ically a sincere man. A Galley-slave on the River Loire. 
An Old-Hebrew Prophet, in the guise of an Edinburgh 
Minister of the Sixteenth Century. (196.) — Knox and 
Queen Mary: 'Who are you, that presume to school the 
nobles and sovereign of this realm?' 'Madam, a subject 
born within the same.' His intolerance — of falsehoods 
and knaveries. Not a mean acrid man ; else he had never 
been virtual President and Sovereign of Scotland. His 
unexpected vein of drollery : A cheery social man ; prac- 
tical, cautious-hopeful, patient. His 'devout imagination' 
of a Theocracy, or Government of God. Hildebrand wished 
a Theocracy; Cromwell wished it, fought for it : Mahomet 
attained it. In one form or other, it is the one thing to bo 
struggled for. (199.) 



The Hero as Man of Letters altogether a product of 
these new ages : A Heroic Soul in very strange guise. 
Literary men ; genuine and spurious. Fichte's ' Divine 
Idea of the World : ' His notion of the True Man of Let- 
ters. Goethe, the Pattern Literary Hero. (p. 206.) — The 
disorganized condition of Literature, the summary of all 
other modem disorganizations. The Writer of a true 
Book our true modern Preacher. Miraculous influence of 
Books : The Hebrew Bible. Books are now our actual 
University, our Church, our Parliament. With Books, 
Democracy is inevitable. Thought the true thaumaturgic 
influence, by which man works all things whatsoever. (212.) 
-^Organization of the ' Literary Guild : ' Needful disci- 
pline ; ' priceless lessons ' of Poverty. The Literary Priest- 
hood, and its importance to society. Chinese Literary 
Governors. Fallen into strange times; ard strange things 

332 Summaris. 

need to be speculated upon. (221.) — An age of Scepticism ; 
The very possibility of Heroism formally abnegated. Ben- 
thamism an eyeless Heroism. Scepticism, Spiritual Par* 
alysis, Insincerity: Heroes gone-out; Quacks come-in. 
Our brave Chatham himself lived the strangest mimetic life 
all along. Violent remedial revulsions : Chartisms, French 
Revolutions : The Age of Scepticism passing away. Let 
each Man look to the mending of his own Life. (227.)— 
Johnson one of our Great English Souls. His miserable 
Youth and Hypochondria : Stubborn Self-help. Llis loyal 
submission to what is really higher than himself. How- 
he stood by the old Formulas : Not less original for 
that. Formulas; their Use and Abuse. Johnson's uncon- 
scious sincerity : His Twofold Gospel, a kind of Moral 
Prudence and clear Hatred of Cant. His writings sin- 
cere and full of substance. Architectural nobleness of 
his Dictionary. Boswell, with all his faults, a true hero- 
worshipper of a true Hero. (238.) — Rousseau a morbid, 
excitable, spasmodic man ; intense rather than strong. 
Had not the invaluable ' talent of Silence. ' His Face, 
expressive of his character. His Egoism : Hungry for 
the praises of men. His Books : Passionate appeal:, 
which did once more struggle towards Reality : A Prophet 
to his Time ; as he could, and as the Time could. Roce- 
pink, and artificial bedizenment. Fretted, exasperated, 
till the heart of him went mad : He could be cooped, starv- 
ing, into garrets; laughed at as a maniac; but he could not 
be hindered from setting the world on fire. {246.) — Burns 
a genuine Hero, in a withered, unbelieving, secondhand 
Century. The largest soul of all the British lands, came 
among us in the shape of a hard-handed Scottish Peasant. 
His heroic Father and Mother, and their sore struggle 
through life. His rough untutored dialect : Affectionate 
joyousness. His writings a poor fragment of him. His 
conversational gifts : High duchesses and low ostlers alike 
fascinated by him. (251.) — Resemblance between Burns and 
Mirabeau. Official Superiors : The greatest ' thinking- 
faculty ' in this land superciliously dispensed with. Hero- 
worship under strange conditions. The notablest phaeis 
of Burns's history his visit to Edinburgh. For one man 
who can stand prosperity, there are a hundred that will 
stand adversity. Literary Lionism. (255.) 

Summary. 333 



The King the most important of Great Men ; the sum- 
mary of all the various figures of Heroism. To enthrone 
the Ablest Man, the true business of all Social procedure : 
The Ideal of Constitutions. Tolerable and intolerable 
approximations. Divine Rights and Diabolic Wrongs, 
(p. 261.) — The world's sad predicament; that of having its 
Able-Man to seek, and not knowing in what manner to pro- 
ceed about it. The era of Modern Revolutionism dates 
from Luther^ The French Revolution no mere act of Gen- 
eral Insanity : Truth clad in hell-fire ; the Trump of Doom 
to Plausibilities and empty Routine. The cry of * Liberty 
and Equality ' at bottom the repudiation of sham Heroes. 
Hero-worship exists forever and everywhere ; from divine 
adoration down to the common courtesies of man and 
man : The soul of Order, to which all things. Revolutions 
included, work. Some Cromwell or Napoleon the neces- 
sary finish of a Sansculottism. The manner in which Kings 
•were made, and Kingship itself first took rise. (265.) — • 
Puritanism a section of the universal war of Belief against 
Make-believe. Laud a weak ill-starred Pedant ; in his spas- 
modic vehemence heeding no voice of prudence, no cry of 
pity. Universal necessity for true Forms : How to distin- 
guish between True and False. The nakedest Reality 
preferable to any empty Semblance, however dignified. 
(272.) — The work of the Puritans. The Sceptical Eight- 
eenth century, and its constitutional estimate of Cromwell 
and his associates. No wish to disparage such characters 
as Hampden, Eliot, Pym ; a most constitutional, unblam- 
able, dignified set of men. The rugged outcast Crom- 
well, the man of them all in whom one still finds human 
stuff. The One thing worth revolting for. (275.) — Crom- 
well's 'hypocrisy,' an impossible theory. His pious Life 

334 Summaris. 

as a Farmer until forty years of age. His public successes, 
honest successes of a brave man. His participation in the- 
King's death no ground of condemnation. His eye for 
facts no hypocrite's gift. His Ironsides the embodiment 
of this insight of his. (281.) — Know the men that may be- 
trusted : Alas, this is yet, in these days, very far from 
>s. Cromwell's hypochondria : His reputed confusion of 
speech : His habit of prayer. His speeches unpremedi- 
tated and full of meaning. His reticetices ; called 'lying' 
and ' dissimulation : ' Not one falsehood proved against 
nim. (288.) — Foolish charge of ' ambition.' The great Em- 
pire of Silence : Noble silent men, scattered here and there, 
each in his department ; silently thinking, silently hoping, 
silently working. Two kinds of ambition; one wholly blam- 
able, the other laudable, inevitable : How it actually was 
with Cromwell. (294.) — Hume's Fanatic-Hypocrite theory. 
How indispensable everywhere a King is, in all movements 
of men. Cromwell, as King of Puritanism, of England. 
Constitutional palaver : Dismissal of the Rump Parlia- 
ment. Cromwell's Parliaments and Protectorship : Par- 
liaments having failed, there remained nothing for him but 
the way of Despotism. His closing days : His poor old 
Mother. It was not to men's judgments that he appealed; 
nor have men judged him very well. (303.) — The French 
Revolution, the * third act ' of Protestantism. Napoleon, 
infected with the quackeries of his age : Had a kind of sin- 
cerity, — an instinct towards t\ie practical. H\s,fai/h, — 'the 
Tools to him that can handle them', the whole truth of 
Democracy. His heart-hatred of Anarchy. Finally, his 
quackeries got the upper hand : He would found a ' Dy- 
nasty : ' Believed wholly in the dupeability of Men. This 
Napoleonism was unjust, a falsehood, and could not last. 


Agincourt, Shakspeare's battle of, 

All, young Mahomet's kinsman and 

convert, 8i. 
Allegory, the sportful shadow of 

earnest Faith, 11, 44- 
* 'Ambition, foolish charge of, 294 ; 

laudable ambition, 299. 
Arabia and the Arabs, 66. 

Balder, the white Sungod, 28, 49. 

Belief, the true god-announcing 
miracle, 79, 105, 196, 232 ; war of, 
272. See Religion, Scepticism. 

Benthamism, 103, 230. 

Books, miraculous influence of, 213, 
220 ; our modern University, 
Church and Parliament, 219. 

Boswell, 244. 

Bunyan's Pilgrim's Progress, 12. 

Burns, 251; his birth, and humble 
heroic parents, 251 ; rustic dialect,} 
253 ; the most gifted British souli 
of his century, 254 ; resemblance 
to Mirabeau, 255 ; his sincerity, 
257 ; his visit to Edinburgh, Lion- 
hunted to death, 259. 

Caabah, the, with its Black Stone 
and sacred Wells, 69. 

Canopus, worship of, 16. 

Charles I. fatally incapable of being 
dealt with, 286. 

China, literary governors of, 225. 

Church. See Books. 

Cromwell, 276 ; his hypochondria, 
2S2, 289 ; early marriage and con- 
version ; a quiet farmer, 2S3 ; his 
Ironsides, 286; his Speeches, 292, 
310; his ' ambition,' and the like, 
294; dismisses the Rump Parlia- 
ment 305; Protectorship and ParHa- 
mentary Futilities, 310; his last 
days, and closing sorrows, 314. 

Dante, 116; biography in his Book 
and Portrait, 117; his birth, educa- 
tion and early career, 117; love 
for Beatrice, unhappy marriage, 
banishment, 118; uncourtier-like 
ways, 119; death, 122 ; hisDivina 
Commedia genuinely a song, 123 ; 
the Unseen World, as figured in 
the Christianity of the Middle 
Ages, 130; 'uses' of Dante 134. 

David, the Hebrew King, 65. 

Divine Right of Kings, 264. 

Duty, 44, 87 ; infinite nature of, 103 
sceptical spiritual paralysis, 227. 

Edda, the Scandinavian, 26. 
Eighteenth Century, the sceptical, 

226-237, 277- 
Elizabethan Era, 138. 

Faults, his, not the criterion of any 

man, 65. 
Fichte's theory of literary men, 20S. 
Fire, miraculous nature of, 27. 
Forms, necessity for, 274. 
Frost. See Fire. 

Goethe's 'characters,' 141; no- 
tablest of literary men, 210. 

Graphic, secret of beir.g, 126. 

Gray's misconception of Norse lore^ 

Hampden, 276. 

Heroes, Universal History the 
united biographies of, 5, 43 ; how 
' little critics ' account for great 
men, 22 ; all Heroes fundament- 
ally of the same stuff, 41 j 60^ 106, 
155, 206, 255 ; Heroism possible 
to all, 155, 196; Intellect the 
primary outfit, 142; no man a hero 
to a valet-%o\i\, 245, 277, 288. 

Hero-worship the tap-root of all 




Religion, iS-24, 59 ; perennial in. 
man, 23, 114. 169,270. 
Hutchinson and Cromwell, 276, 314 

Iceland, the home of Norse Poets, 

Idolatry, 162 ; criminal only when 

insinceie, 164. 
Igdrasil, the Life-Tree, 30, 137. 
Intellect, the summary of man's gifts, 

142, 226. 
Islam, 77. 

Job, the Book of, 68. 

Johnson's difficulties, poverty, hypo- 
chondria, 238 ; rude self-help ; 
stands genuinely by the old form- 
ulas, 239, 240; his noble uncon- 
scious sincerity, 242 ; twofold 
Gospel, of Prudence and hatred of 
Cant, 243 ; his Dictionary, 244 ; 
the brave old Samuel, 246, 300. 

Jotuns, 28, 52. 

Kadijah, the good, Mahomet's first 
Wife, 74, 79. 

King, the, a summary of all various 
figures of Heroism, 261 ; indis- 
pensable in all movements of men, 

Knox's influence on Scotland, 193 ; 
the bravest of Scotchmen, 196 ; 
his unassuming career ; is sent to 
the French Galleys, 196; his 
colloquies with Queen Mary, 199; 
vein of drollery ; a brother to high 
and to low ; his death, 202, 203. 

Koran, the, 88. 

Lamaism, Grand, 10. 

Leo X., the elegant Pagan Pope, 177. 

Liberty and Equality, 166, 270, 

Literary Men, 210 ; in China, 225. 

Literature, chaotic condition of, 212 ; 
not our heaviest evil, 227. 

Luther's birth and parentage, 171 ; 
hardship and rigorous necessity ; 
death of Alexis ; becomes monk, 
172, 173 ; his religious despair ; 
finds a Bible; deliverance from 
darkness, 175; Rome; Tetzel, 
177 ; bums the Pope's Bull, 179 ; 
at the Diet of Worms, 180 ; King 
of the Reformation, 1S5 ; 'Duke 
Georges' nine days running,' 187 ; 

his little daughter's deathbed; his 
solitary Patmos, 189; his Portrait, 

Mahomet's birth, boyhood, and 
youth, 71 ; marries Kadijah, 74; 
quiet, unambitious life, 74; divine 
commission, 75 ; the good Kadijah. 
believes him ; Seid ; young Ali, 
79, 80 ; offences, and sore strug- 
gles, 81, 82 ; flight from I\Iecca ; 
being driven to take the sword, he 
uses it, 83, 84; the Koran, 88; 
a veritable Hero, 97 ; Seid's death; 
98 ; freedom from Cant, 99 ; the 
infinite nature of Duty, 103. 

Mary, Queen, and Knox, 199. 

Mayflower, sailing of the, 192. 

Mecca, 69 

Middle Ages, represented by Dantfr 
and Shakspeare, 130, 136. 

Montrose, the Hero-Cavalier, 305. 

Musical, all deep things, 113. 

Napoleon, a portentous mixture of 
Quack and Hero, 316; Iris in- 
stinct for the practical, 317; his. 
democratic_/c2:zV/;, and heart-hatred 
for anarchy, 318; apostatized from 
his old faith in Facts, and took to 
believing in Semblances, 320; 
this Napoleonism was u>ij7!si, and 
could not last, 322. 

Nature, all one great Miracle, 14, 
93, 189 ; a righteous umpire, 85. 

Novalis, on Man, 17; Belief, 79; 
Shakspeare, 145. 

Odin, the first Norse * man of genius*^ 
32 ; historic rumors and guesses, 
34 ; how he came to be deified, 
36; invented ' runes,' 39 ; Hero, 
Prophet, God, 41. 

Olaf, King, and Thor, 56. 

Original man the sincere man, 63 ; 

Paganism, Scandinavian, 8 ; not 
mere Allegory, 1 1 ; Nature-wor- 
ship, 14, 43; Hero-worship, 18; 
creed of our fathers, 23, 52, 55; 
Impersonation of the ^dsible work- 
ings of Nature, 26 ; contrasted 
with Greek Paganism, 29 ; the- 



first Norse Thinker, 32 ; main 
practical Belief; indispensable to 
to be brave, 45 ; hearty, homely, 
rugged Mythology ; BaJder, Thor, 
49, 50 ; Consecration of Valo; 

Parliaments superseded by Books, 
219 ; Cromwell's Parliaments 

Past, the whole, the possession of 
the Present, 58. 

Poet, the, and Prophet, 108, 136, 

Poetry and Prose, distinction of, 112, 

Popery, 176. 

Poverty, advantages of, 13S. 

Piiest, the true, a kind of Prophet, 

Printing, consequences of, 220. 

Private judgment, 167. 

Progress of the Species, 15S. 

Prose. See Poetry. 

Protestantism, the root of Modern 
European History, 166 ; not dead 
yet, i'<3 ; its living fruit, 191, 266. 

Purgatory, noble Catholic concep- 
tion of, 129. 

Puritanism, founded by Knox, 191 ; 
true beginning of America, 192 ; 
the one epoch of Scotland, 193 ; 
Theocracy, 203 ; Puritanism hi 
England, 272, 275, 301. 

Quackery originates nothing, 9, 62 : 
age of, 233 ; Quacks and Dupes, 


Ragnarbk, 55. 

Reformer, the true, 157. 

Religion, a man's, the chief fact with 
regard to him, 7 ; based on Hero- 
worship, 18; propagating by the 
sword, 84 ; cannot succeed by 
being ' easy,' 96. 

Revolution, 263 ; the French, 266, 


Richter, 16. 

Right and Wrong, 103, 130. 

Rousseau, not a strong man ; his 
Portrait ; egoism, 246 ; his pas- 
sionate appeals, 248 ; his Books, 
like himself, unhealthy; the iZemzcm, the sacred Well, 69. 

Evangelist of the French Revolu- 
tion, 250. 

Scepticism, 1 spiritual paralysis, 
227-237, 277. 

Scotland awakened into life by Knox 

Secret, the open, 109. 

Seid, Mahomet's slave and friend 
80. 98. 

Shakspeare and the Elizabethan 
Era, 13S ; his all sufficing intellect, 
139, 145 ; his Characters, 141 ; his 
Dramas, a part of Nature herself, 
145 ; his joyful tranquillity, and 
overflowing love of laughter, 146 ; 
his hearty Patriotism 148 ; glimpses 
of the world that was in him, 148; 
a heaven-sent Light-Bringer, 150; 
a King of Saxondom, 153. 

Shekinah, Man the true, 17. 

Silence, the great empire of, 136, 

Sincerity, better than gracefulness, 
44 ; the first characteristic of 
heroism and originality, 63, 75, 
169, 171, 208. 

Theocracy, a, striven for by all true 

Reformers, 204, 301 . 
Thor, and his adventures, 28, 52-55 ; 

his last appearance, 56. 
Thought, miraculous influence of, 

29, 42, 220 ; tmisical Thought, 

Thunder. See Thor. 
Time, the great mystery of, 15. 
Tolerance, true and false, 185, 200. 
Turenne, 107. 

Universities, 216. 

Valor, the basis of all virtue, 47, 
50; Norse consecration of, 57; 
Christian Valor, 160. 

Voltaire-worship, 22 . 

Wish, the Norse god, 28 ; enlarged 
into a heaven by Mahomet, 104. 

Worms, Luther at, iSo. 

Worship, transcendent wonder, 8- 
See Hero-worship. 



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contains illuminated title pages, etched portrait of 
author or colored frontispiece and numerous engravings. 
Full cloth, ivory finish, ornamental inlaid sides and 
back, boxed, 40 cents. 





4. AMERICAN NOTES.-Kipling. 









15. BATTLE OF LIFE.— Dickens. 

16. BIGLOW^ PAPERS.— Lowell. 

17. BLACK BEAUTY.— Sewell. 




26. CAMILLE.— Dumas, Jr. 

27. CARMEN.— Merimee. 



Vademecum Series— Continued. 




30. CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES.— Stevenson. 


32. CHIMES, THE.— Dickens. 


34. CHRISTMAS CAROL, A.-Dickens. 



36. CRANFORD.— Ga.?keH. 



43. DAY BREAKI<7rH, THE.— Shugert. 




46. DOG OF FLANDERS, A.-Ouida. 

47. DREAM LIFE.— Mitchell. 



53. ENDY3I10N.— Keats. 

54. ESSAY^S OF BLIA.-Lamb. 

55. ETHICS OF THE DUST.— Ruskin. 

56. EVANGELINE.— Longfellow. 


62. FANCHON.— Sand. 

63. FOR DAILY^ BREAD.-Sienkiewicz. 


68. GREEK HEROES.-Kingslev. 


74. HANIA. — Sienkiewicz. 

75. HAUNTED MAN, THE.-Dickens. 


77. HIAWATHA, THE SONG OF.— Longfellow.- 



80. HOUSE OF THE WOLF.-Wevman. 

81. HYPERION.-Longfellow. 



88. IDYLLS OF THE KING.— Tennvson. 

URE.— Gladstone. 



Yademecum Series— ContiDued. 

90. IN BLACK AND WHITE.— Kipling. 

91. IN MEMORIAM.-Tennvson. 


97. J. COLE.— Gellibrand. 

lOL KAVANAGH.— Longfellow. 

102. KIDNAPPED.— Stevenson. 


Y^ORK.— Irving. 



109. LADY^ OF THE LAKE.-Scott. 

110. LALLA ROOKH.— :\Ioore. 


112. LAYS OF ANCIENT ROME, THE.-Macaulay. 

113. LET US FOLLOW HIM.— Sienkiewicz. 

114. LIGHT OF ASIA.— Arnold. 

115. LIGHT THAT FAILED, THE.— Kipling. 

116. LITTLE LAI\IE PRINCE.— Mulock. 




120. LUCILE.-:\reredith. 

126. MAGIC NUTS, THE.— Molesworth. 

127. MANON LESCAUT.— Prevost. 

128. MARMION.— Scott. 



131. MINE OW^N PEOPLE.-Kipling. 

132. MINISTER OF THE WORLD.— :\Tason. 

133. MOSSES FRO:\I AN OLD MANSE.-Hawthorne 

134. MULVANEY STORIES.— Kipling. 


WORLD.— Drummond. 



145. OLD CHRISTMAS.-Irving. 

146. OUTRE-MER.— Longfellow. 

150. PARADISE LOST.— Milton. 


152. PAUL AND VIRGINIA.— Sainte Pierre. 

153. PETER SCHLEMIHL.-Chamisso. 

154. PHANTOM RICKSHAW.— Kipling. 



Vadeiiiecum Series— Continued. 


157. PLEASURES OF LIFE.— Lubbock. 


159. POE'S POEMS. 



161. PRINCESS AND MAUD.-Tennvson. 

162. PRUE AND I.— Curtis. 

169. QUEEN OF THE AIR.— Ruskin. 

172. RAB AND HIS FRIENDS.— Brown. 

173. REPRESENTATIVE :\IEN.— Emerson. 

174. REVERIES OF A BACHELOR.— Mitchell. 

175. RIP VAN WINKLE.— Irving. 




182. SA:\IANTHA at SARATOGA.-Holley. 

183. SARTOR RESARTUS.— Carlyle. 

184. SCARLET LETTER, THE.-Hawthorne. 

185. SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL.-Sheridan. 

186. SENTniENTAL JOURNEY\ A.— Sterne. 

187. SESAME ANL LILIES.— Ruskin. 


189. SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER.— Goldsmith. 

190. SILAS :MARNER.— Eliot. 

191. SKETCH BOOK, THE.— Irving. 

192. SNOW niAGE, THE.-Hawthorne. 


200. TANGLEWOOD TALES.— Hawthorne. 



203. TEN NIGHTS IN A BAR-ROO:\I.— Arthur. 

204. THINGS WILL TAKE A TURN.— Harraden. 




208. TREASURE ISLAND.— Stevenson. 

209. TWICE TOLD TALES.— Hawthorne. 

217.^ UNCLE TOM'S CABIN.— Stowe. 

218. UNDINE.— Fouque. 



Vademecum Series— Continued. 

223. VICAR OF WAKEFIELD.— Goldsmith. 

226. WALDEN.— Thoreau. 

227. WATER BABIES.— Kingsley. 

228. WEIRD TALES.— Poe. 

229. WHAT IS ART?— Tolstoi. 


232. WINDOW IN THRU:\IS.— Barrie. 

233. WOMAN'S WORK IN THE HOME.— Farrar. 

234. WONDER BOOK, A.— Hawthorne. 


244. ZOE.— By author of " Laddie," etc. 


Full White Vellum, handsome new mosaic design in 
gold and colors, gold edge.^, Boxed, 50 cents. 

1. ABIDE IN CHRIST.— Murray. 



4. BEST THOUGHTS.— From Henry Drummond. 





9. CHRISTIAN LIFE.— Oxenden. 




13. COMING TO CHRIST.— Havergal. 


15. DAY" BREAKETH, THE.-Shugert. 

16. DAYS OF GRACE.-]\Iurray. 


18. EVENING THOUGHTS.— Havergal. 


20. HOLY IN CHRIST.-:\Iurray. , 



— Gladstone. 



Devotional Series— Continued. 



25. JOHN PLOUGHMAN'S TALK.— Spurgeon. 

26. KEPT FOR THE MASTER'S USE.— Havergal. 


28. LET US FOLLOW HIM.— Sienkiewicz. 

29. LIKE CHRIST.-Murray. 




33. MORNING THOUGHTS.— Havergal. 

34. MY KING AND HIS SERVICE.— Havergal. 


WORLD.— Drummond. 



38. PATHWAY OF SAFETY.— Oxenden. 







44. SHEPHERD PSALM.— :Meyer. 






50. W^ITH CHRIST.-Murray. 




Limp cloth binding, gold top, illuminated title and 
frontispiece, 35 cents. 










10. KING HENRY IV. (Part I), 
n. KING HENRY IV. (Part II). 


13. KING HENRY VI. (Part I). 

14. KING HENRY VI. (Part II). 

15. KING HENRY VI. (Part III). 












27. R0:ME0 and JULIET. 















university of